Beta Boys, “Brick Walls/Littered Streets” 7”; “Laugh/Cry” (Total Punk; Feel It!)
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.
Check out our latest playlist, featuring songs and artists we’ve been enjoying lately (at least, the ones we could find on Soundcloud). Enjoy!
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.
We’re back! (hello?) After a fun, voodoo-filled family holiday in N’awlins (what?), we’ve been busy sifting through our inbox for treasure. One such shiny bauble comes from new (to us) band Crooked Teeth, formed three years or so ago in Glasgow and now hq’d in London. Following on last year’s excellent “Mirrors”, the trio’s forthcoming new single is called “Mountain Song”.
“Mountain Song” is a euphoric mix of dancefloor friendly indie pop and spiky electro. The press release accompanying the track describes it as a mix of Underworld, Doves and Chemical Brothers – I might add sprinkles of Architecture and Morality-era OMD in the plonkier synth notes and flashes of britpop pomp in the stormy chorus, with vocal tones reminiscent of Lee Mavers. (Maybe if M. Mavers had done ‘Setting Sun’ instead of Noel G.? Perchance, to dream). The overall effect is of half-light, the track’s widescreen glimmer hooded, ever so slightly, by a gauzy shade of effects. True to it’s name, the track’s resounding chorus would sound truly majestic echoing over clifftops or reverberating through valleys.
“Mountain Song” will be released, together with fellow a-side, “The American Dream”, on Lost in the Manor records in the UK. Crooked Teeth have lined up a slot at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, UK, so catch them there, if you can. You can also virtually stalk the band on fbook and the twitt.
Bikini Cops, Three (Drunken Sailor; Televised Suicide)
Bikini Cops are a quartet hailing from Perth. The band have been putting out music since 2015 or so and Third, their third (the title should’ve tipped you off), is the strongest yet. Building on the momentum of the band’s first two releases, these tracks feel more focused and fully-formed, but without losing any of the raw energy. Musically, the album teeters frantically between barely hinged blasts of MC5-esque rock and fantastically blunt, ‘old school’ (™) hardcore. The band is both tight and constantly on the verge of collapse, in the grand tradition of bands like First Four Years-era Black Flag. Singer Chris Balch’s cracking yelp carries the feeling of desperate antipathy of that band’s Keith Morris or Ian MacKaye in his Minor Threat years.
The one-two crotch kick of opener, “(Not) My World”, and “Stupid System” is, alone, worth the price of admission – but don’t go just yet, or you’ll miss out on personal fave “Total Control” and epic (over two minutes!) closer, “Lost in a Dimension”. Three makes its point quickly and succinctly, six tracks careening by in under 10 minutes (by my math), providing little time for assessment or breath, but eff me if it didn’t get more exciting with each repeat. Do circle pits go counterclockwise in AUS?
Three is out now, courtesy of Drunken Sailor in the UK and Televised Suicide in Australia. You can also pick up a copy on the Bikini Cops’ bandcamp page, while following the band on fbook.
Spike Vincent, S-T EP (Burger; Dinosaur City)
Spike Vincent – pictured above with a glorious coiffure exuding an Italia ’90 Rudi Voller or Hard Target-era Van Damme vibe – hails from Hurlstone Park, Sydney, Australia. After releasing a couple of 7” singles on local label Dinosaur City Records, Vincent recently exhaled a self-titled EP chock full of shimmering, emotive indie guitar pop.
Where previous singles were self-produced, the EP sees Vincent backed by a full band as part of a live, in studio recording. The intimate, unpolished “live to tape” process serves as the perfect setting for the bruised romance of the EP’s six tracks. Highlights abound: “Lie in the Dust” swoops and darts – but never quite alights – like a long-lost The Church single (Vincent’s tone, particularly in the lower register, calls to mind that band’s Steve Kilbey); “Get Over It” is a luxurious internal monologue debating the merits of a relationship’s ‘next step’; closer, “I Like You” a somewhat tortured love note with a sing-along chorus and lines like “if I like you/will my soul turn into gravel/…will my life start to unravel”.
Vincent’s self-titled EP is available now, via Dinosaur City and Burger Records in the US. You can grab a copy on his bandcamp while having your data pilfered on fbook (too soon?) and instagram.
An inexact science, the playlist, but submitted for your approval are two containing some of the bands and tracks we’ve covered, listened to ad nauseam or are just generally obsessed over for the last few months here at thegrindinghalt.com. Enjoy and share!
Snob, S-T LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Snob are a London quartet. A bit difficult to find much info on them, as they’ve chosen the deep underground route (no fbook, &etc.), but it seems Snob features members of other bands we heart, like Good Throb. To date, the band have put out two long-form 7” (i.e., not just a-side/b-side singles), as well as a track for an issue of the Another Subculture cassette magazine – all available via their bandcamp page – and recently released an excellent self-titled debut long-player.
Snob (the LP) is a fine dose of old school (UK ’82, anarcho) hardcore; that familiar wall of noise as potent a message-bearer as ever. Here, the ferocity of the playing is further enhanced by the vocal tone, which veers from sneering disaffection (“Lycra Daddy”), to (barely) restrained contempt (“Punisher”), to outright desperation (“Stuck”). The lyrical sardonicism – the etymology of which may trace as “curling one’s lips back at evil” (at least according to wikipedia, and I’m going with it, since it seems apt) – is no more potent than on album highlight, “Sex Contract”, where the lead singer’s almost earnest tone while delivering lines like “my guy’s so smart/he suggested I give/consent via an app/so I don’t change my mind/and make accusations…/he’s so sensitive/I’m so respectful” makes them cut deeper, as much tear- as rage-inducing. It’s this kind of album that draws me back to this kind of music – not because it makes me feel younger (I wish), but because the issues covered are ever-present, many in arguably more insidious forms, and this kind of inspired raging is still needed.
The Snob LP is available now, on the ever fab La Vida Es Un Mus – buy it here. Snob also appear to have a show coming up in London on March 31 – deets here.
Highlights include: “Sex Contract”; “Jeremy Kyle”; “Punisher”; “Stuck”.
Never Betters are a new (to me) quartet from London (the Ontario one), who self-describe as “pop punk”. In the interest of full disclosure I must admit, as a crusty old hardcore kid, that the proximity of “pop” and “punk” in the same sentence often makes me run for the hills, but it was worth overcoming my phobia to check out the band’s new track, “Pictures”.
Taken from the band’s half of Guns + Roses’ Roses, the mouthful of a split EP with local cohorts Grievances (both bands share members), “Pictures” is a storming, 90s/early 2000s-inflected indie rock swagger fest. Never Betters come on like a rougher-hewn version of fellow Canucks, Alvvays, a less angsty Maktaverskhan, a less stoned Dinosaur Jr. (check the closing guitar freakout), a less English Ned’s Atomic Dustbin (?!), April Romano’s sung-wailed vocals trailing back through the open windows of a car passing by at speed. It’s the kind of jam we could envision playing in The Bronze, while Never Betters’ bio proffers the song as the “theme song for some high school drama tv show” and the band as prom headliners – we can dig it.
Guns + Roses’ Roses releases March 16 through fellow apostrophe enthusiasts Grooves Records’ Records, and is available to pre-order here. You can also shadow all Never Betters’ online movements on fbook and the twitt, while checking out the video for “Pictures”, here.
The venerable Kill Rock Stars label recently announced the addition to its roster of PDX-based quartet, Lithics. The band’s forthcoming new album bears the mental-image inducing title of Mating Surfaces, and they’ve shared lead track, “Excuse Generator” (listen below).
The track is a delicious soft-serve swirl of punkier, art-pop new wave and post-punk, seamlessly blending the insouciance of the former with the jittery agitation of the latter. Kicking off along a “Teenage Lobotomy” intro, vocalist Aubrey Hornor recalls Patty Donahue if she fronted Bush Tetras or a more restive XTC. This push-pull of the melodious and the discordant makes for an intriguing whole, placing them amongst the best of the current crop of bands that includes Omni and Shopping.
Mating Surfaces is due May 25 from KRS, pre-orders up here – get psyched for release day. Lithics are also going on a US tour starting later this month, supporting aforementioned tgh faves Shopping on the west coast, followed by a swing through the midwest and east coast supporting Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. You can also follow the band on instagram.