Monthly Archives: April 2017

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.

Frank Moka Shares a Hook with a Message on “Nation Time”

Frank Moka, “Nation Time” (self-released)

Frank Moka is a Dallas-based percussionist who, as a member of The Funky Knuckles, has played with artists like Erykah Badu and Stanley Clarke.  His new track, “Nation Time”, is a tight blending of hook with message; groove with theory.  Starting off like the feel good hit of the summer, its glistening, sunny piano chords and straight, snappy rhythm making you wish you had that cabriolet, the lyrics kick in and demand your attention – “now you got your shit together/what are you gonna do?” the opening question/salvo.  While the song continues to feel airy and light, weighty topics abound:  race, (comm)unity, police brutality, misogyny – the message is woven, and it’s impossible to ignore the pattern.  With a title that seems to reference Amiri Baraka and/or Joe McPhee (I don’t know if it is intentional), this should maybe not be surprising.

On his SoundCloud page, Moka describes the song as “a Hip Hop/Pop track with a very powerful message”, and he is being understated.  Along with other new artists like Jamila Woods, Frank Moka shows that songs with undeniable hooks need not also be vapid.  Points can be made while the groove moves you – open the windows, drop the top, and spread the word.  In addition to SoundCloud, you can follow Frank Moka on fbook and the twitt.  Here’s hoping for more from him soon.

Slimy Member Craft Spellbinding Goth-Punk on Ugly Songs for Ugly People

Slimy Member, Ugly Songs for Ugly People (Drunken Sailor; Occult Whispers)

“depression/is so real/consuming my brain”

Slimy Member is a four-piece based out of Dallas, Texas.  Named for a Rudimentary Peni song, the band has been active since 2013, having previously released a demo and an EP.  New LP, Ugly Songs for Ugly People, serves as their debut, full-length release.

On Ugly, Slimy Member comes across to these (aging, constantly ringing) ears very much of a part with 80s punk/hardcore – hell, there’s even a two-fer song (“Bomb Blast/Age Old Time”), how 80s hc is that?  Their sound incorporates not only the urgent anger of bands like RP and The Exploited, but also those who, like TSOL (check the galloping bassline on “Age Old Time” and the morbid imagery of “A Sight to Behold”), Christian Death and current fellow travelers like Institute and Anasazi, cloak their abrasions in goth atmospherics.  Heavily reverbed vocals and flanged guitars amplify an almost suffocating tone of angst, stress and tension, a tension and energy that the band carry all the way through the fantastic closer, “Always the Victim”.  It’s a thrilling reminder of just how exuberantly visceral these sounds were, are, and can be.

Ugly Songs for Ugly People is out now, via Drunken Sailor (in the UK) and soon via Occult Whispers (in the US).  You can also snap up a digital copy through the Slimy Member bandcamp page while you check out their earlier releases.  The band is on tour soon for you lucky chucks on the west coast of the USofA – dates here.

Highlights include: “Oceanic Feeling”, “Bomb Blast/Age Old Time”, “Always the Victim”.

Check Out the Debut EP from Boston’s Blau Blau

Blau Blau, S/T EP (self-released); “Glassy Eyes” (from Ladyfest Boston 2017 mixtape)

Blau Blau – a new four piece hailing from Boston, MA whose members have featured in bands such as Mini Dresses and New Highway Hymnal – released their hugely confident debut in January.

Short and sweet, it’s four tracks coming in with a runtime of ten minutes (give or take), it packs quite the ear punch.  Dream pop, indie jangle, psych, swirly shoegaze – deceptively simple melodies that will be jammed in your brain.  Opener, “No Heaven”, veritably gallops out of the gate – a rollicking jangly track that shows off both the band’s cohesion and the vocal range of singer Lira Mondal, who goes from whisper to wail and everywhere in between.  It’s hard to pick a favorite but, if forced, I’d have to go with the last two:  “Harm”, which has a bit of a kaleidoscopic, Banshees feel to it, and closer, “Kiss Kiss”, which comes off like a harder punching Sundays, all quiet rainy afternoon until the chorus crashes your reverie.  “Glassy Eyes”, the band’s contribution to a mixtape celebrating the Boston edition of Ladyfest, picks up where “Kiss” leaves off and is a wonderfully atmospheric track worth checking out.

The EP is available now, via Blau Blau’s bandcamp site.  The fantastic Ladyfest Boston 2017 mixtape can be purchased here – proceeds go to benefit Boston-area charities, so it’s good and good for you (read more about it here).

Follow the band on fbook for tour dates and to see how many times they can copy/paste the words “blau blau” ad infinitum, Jack Torrance stylee.

Brooch (Members of Ought and Yung) Find Delicate Beauty on “Blood Spitting/Broken Glass”

Brooch, “Blood Spitting”/“Broken Glass” 7” (Tough Love Recordings)

Brooch is a musical collaboration featuring Ben Stidworthy (Ought) and Mikkel Holm Silkjær (Yung), born of a relationship between the two musicians forged while on tour with their main bands.  They’ve released a double a-side single, “Blood Spitting/Broken Glass,” each taking turns handling vocal duties.

Each track has a weary, intimate quality juxtaposed against stately 3/4 time.  Personal fave, “Blood Spitting”, feels reminiscent of Elliott Smith, a beautifully delicate melody like fissures in bone china or imperfections in a piece of amber, fading out in a melancholic drift of what sounds like a melodeon or concertina.  “Broken Glass” is a bit rougher, but no less lovely, its droning organ, bending guitar and tremulous falsetto bringing the feel of an endless twirl.

The single is out now, courtesy of Tough Love – order here.  You can find more about Brooch on fbook and the twitt.