We here at thegrindinghalt.com are often overwhelmed by the amount of great, new music that makes its way into our lives – whether via email or internet rabbitholing, it’s fantastic to make more and more discoveries. The consequence is that, like the proverbial magpie, we are often distracted by the excitement of the new, to the detriment of giving the written props existing discoveries are due.
With that in mind, please to enjoy the following first in a (likely) series of mea culpas to the ones we didn’t write up, with a new year’s resolution to do better:
BB and the Blips, Shame Job (Thrilling Living)
BB and the Blips are based in Sydney, Australia, comprising members of bands like the sadly departed Good Throb (we wrote about them here) and Housewives. Following (quickly) on the release of a blistering, low-fi demo (on Blow Blood (AUS/US) and Nervous Energy (UK/EU)), last September’s full-length debut, Shame Job, shows the band adding an amazing amount of depth in such a short time. Everything’s great, from razor-sharp opener, “Matribuxy” to to the acid-surf closer, “Whinge and Whine”. The vocals, in particular, are a revelation – so much passion and energy transmitted, but rather than being all ‘in the red’, there are subtler shades. Highlights include: “Lucky Country”, “Matriduxy”.
Web: Thrilling Living
Corey Flood, Wish You Hadn’t EP (Fire Talk)
Philadelphia, PA’s Corey Flood released the four-track EP, Wish You Hadn’t, last February, and we’ve been coming back to it ever since. Combining insistent, post-punk rhythms with the vertiginous guitar/bass interplay of 90s indie pop bands like Breeders, the band crafted a subtly sinister mood piece. The arrangements charm like that snake in the Jungle Book, while vocalist/bassist Ivy Gray-Klein’s whispers of lies and deceit are like a wasp in your ear. Excellent. Highlights include: “Feel Okay”.
Constant Mongrel, Living in Excellence (Anti-Fade; La Vida Es Un Mus)
Melbourne, Australia’s Constant Mongrel released one of the album’s of any year last September with Living in Excellence. A potent mix of post-punk, garage and darkly melodic early new wave (I kept hearing early Psychedelic Furs), shot through with psychedelic drone and sung-spoken vocals. The overall mood of cloistered angst is shot through with moments of beauty (see the synth middle in “Lifeless Crisis”), and if you aren’t up out of your seat when the drums crash in at about the :50 mark of the title track (punctuated by a Tom Warrior-approved ‘ooh’), you need some help. Highlights include: “Lifeless Crisis”; “Living in Excellence”; “Action”.
Personality Cult, S-T (Drunken Sailor; Sorry State)
Personality Cult, a project led by Ben Carr of North Cackalack-based Natural Causes, released a self-titled debut back in August, and it’s one of the most rapacious earworms this side of those gross things in that one Star Trek movie. “Fed to the Lions”, while sadly not an interpolation of the Adam and the Ants song of (almost) the same name, does feel like a kind of sequel. In fact, as much as there are shades of everything from Devo to Cheap Trick to Magazine to Jay Reatard on display here, there is a strong whiff of the early Ants’ (e.g., pre-burundi drumming) buzzy playfulness. The album practically throws out infectious melodies like so much cake to assembled masses. Punky, new wave-y, power-poppy delirium. Highlights include: “Brazen”; “Fed to the Lions”; “Motivation”.
Beta Boys, Late Nite Acts (Feel It; Erste Theke Tonträger)
Olympia, Wash-based Beta Boys (we previously wrote about them here) continue to align themselves with a proud Northwest tradition of in your face, cheerfully perverse hardcore bands like Poison Idea and The Accused. The band’s debut full-length, Late Nite Acts, was released in August, and it’s a cacophonous thrillride of blunt, flanged riffs fused with a brutally tight rhythm section topped off by a voice that is the closest I’ve heard to the seared larynx outbursts of M. Blaine Cook since, well, zippy himself. It’s a belter, from start to finish. Highlights include: “Laugh/Cry”; “Red Devil”; “Already Dead”.
Pious Faults, Old Thread (Feel It; Aimless Wander)
Old Thread, the latest from Brisbane, Australia’s Pious Faults (who we previously discussed here), was released last August. The album’s nine tracks are thrillingly disorienting, each threatening to spin off their loose axis off into the ether. A claustrophobic desperation envelops the record, with tracks like opener, “Cope” and “Worship the Surface pt. 1” making this a kind of Damaged for a new era. Summoning as much old school hardcore like Black Flag and Die Kreuzen as freeform industrial experimentalists Throbbing Gristle and newer post-punk noiseniks like Girl Band, it feels somehow familiar and completely singular at the same time. Amazing. Highlights include: “Worship the Surface pt 1”; “Field”.
Web: Feel It
Permission, Drawing Breath Through a Hole in the Ground (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Drawing Breath Through a Hole in the Ground, released last July from London, England-based Permission, is a relentless hardcore record. From the first peals of distortion on opener, “Ambition” through (about 17 minutes later) the bent notes closing “Sequence”, it’s quite a ride. The stop and go tempos invoke that invigorating, yet slightly panic-inducing, feel of being in a circle pit you can’t quite make it out of, reminding of bands like Christ on Parade, Crucifix or Void (DC). Highlights include: “Atmosphere”; “Sick Things”.
PiNK THiNG, The Curtain EP
Following on their 2017 demo, Dallas, TX-based quintet Pink Thing released The Curtain EP last May. It’s a powerful mix of old school punk/hc and death rock, with the kind of dead-eyed, taunting vocals that make you want to throw your fist up. While the opening bars of “Avoid/Devoid” summon the Sex Pistols, there’s an overarching early 80s SST feel, which makes the band’s choice cover of Saccharine Trust’s “I Am Right” apropos. Highlights include: “Creamy”; “Natural Thing”.
Zerodent, Landscapes of Merriment (Alien Snatch)
Perth, Australia’s Zerodent returned in October with Landscapes of Merriment, released on German label Alien Snatch. Landscapes retains the ℅ ’77 punk and buzzed, Stiff Records’ style rock of 2017’s fab Soul Mender (which we fawned over here), now burnished with greyscale shades of post-punk. The inclusion of more active basslines compliment Predrag Delibasich’s soaring guitar melodies and the classically earnest vocals of Lee Jenkins, particularly on (current) personal fave, “I Live a Lie”. Fantastic. Highlights include: “I Live a Lie”; “Utter Power”; “The Ring”.
CB Radio Gorgeous, S-T
Chicago’s CB Radio Gorgeous feature members of local bands like Big Zit and Negative Scanner. The band’s debut, self-titled full-length, was self-released last June (followed by a cassette release on Not Normal Tapes). It’s a relentless mix of driving hc, downtown punk cool and pogo/Buzzcocks’ new wave – sometimes all at once, as on highlight double-shot “Love Countdown” and “Shelley”. Highlights include: “Love Countdown”; “Shelley”; “Babylon”.