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.

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.

The (Soul Train) Line Forms Here – “Street Level”, from Galaxians, Bumps

Galaxians, ‘Street Level’ (Youth Club Sounds)

Hailing from Leeds, UK, Galaxians are Jed Skinner (synthesizers, programming) and Matt Woodward (acoustic drums, more programming), together with vocalist Emma Mason.  They’ve been releasing records since 2012, and I feel a bit disappointed in myself, to be honest, to have only just discovered them, courtesy of storming new joint, “Street Level”.

Released as part of a collaboration between Leeds-based label, Youth Club Sounds, and promoters, Super Friendz, “Street Level” is a movin’, groovin’, burning 80s throwback r&b/electro-disco jam.  Like a riposte to the classic D-Train track, “You’re the One for Me”, Mason roars the opposite while standing on the shoulders of greats like Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King and Teena Marie (the group’s site also references Gwen Guthrie…we can dig it).  Behind and all around her, a driving beat, slippery bass and squishy leads – the arrangement is fantastically dense.  It’ll put a smile on your face after a hard day, even if you’re a weekend girl or guy (look it up, young’uns).  Get up and dance…dance, I said.

“Street Level”, as well as other Galaxians cuts, can be found on the Super Friendz/Youth Club Sounds “Collaborationz” (so many zeds!) mixtape, which can listen to here and purchase on the Galaxians’ bandcamp page (where you can also check they’re upcoming live dates).  Hail Galaxians on fbook and the twitt.

Check Out The Orielles’ Debut Single for Heavenly, “Sugar Tastes Like Salt”

The Orielles, ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ (Heavenly)

Photo by Neelam Khan Vela

Halifax, England (not Nova Scotia).  Fun facts about Halifax (from ultimate lazy bastard encyclopedia, wikipedia): (1) it’s been a textile manufacturing hub since the 15th century – which is kinda cool; and (2) it’s the home of Rolo candy – which is extremely awesome.

What’s also extremely awesome, has six thumbs and currently hails from Halifax (and Liverpool)?  The Orielles, a trio comprising sisters Esme Dee (bass, vocals) and Sidonie Hand-Halford (drums) and Henry Carlyle Wade (guitars).  After self-releasing a few singles, and putting out last year’s fantastic Jobim EP via Art Is Hard, “Sugar Tastes Like Salt” (from a line in the movie Death Proof, per this great write up on the band in The Guardian) is the band’s first single for the mighty Heavenly Recordings.  Starting, innocently enough, with a ride down the neck of a swirling, arpeggiated psych melody, it turns out to be a trip down the rabbit hole.  The track bobs and weaves its way through a smorgasbord of styles (jittering rock steady, Blondie or Factory Records’ style post-punk disco, a sprawling Floyd-like interlude, straight-up Troggs’ garage, some space truckin’) without coming off overcooked.  And despite a modern day attention span straining length of 8 minutes and change, “Sugar” fixes your attention throughout, like some kind of goddamn Medusa.  Brilliant.

“Sugar Tastes Like Salt” is out now, on Heavenly.  You can follow The Orielles’ adventures on fbook, the twitt and instagram.  They’re also on tour in the UK – dates here.

Playlists! Everyone loves playlists!

Here’s a sampling of some tunes we’ve been enjoying here at thegrindinghalt.com (or, at least, what we could find and share on Soundcloud) – please to be enjoying!

Check Out “Schedules Align”, from Feature’s Forthcoming Debut, Banishing Ritual

Feature, “Schedules Align” (Upset the Rhythm)

Photo credit: Owen Richards.

“She’ living a dream/you’re willing to wait”

Feature is the UK-based trio of Jen Calleja, Heather Perkins and Liv Willars, whose collective CVs include memberships in such tgh faves as Sauna Youth, Metronomy, and Slowcoaches.  “Schedules Align” is the first track released from the band’s forthcoming debut, Banishing Ritual, and it’s chock full of hi-nrg, shout-along punk.

I stumbled upon this band a few months ago – specifically, 2015’s Tourists EP – working back via one of Calleja’s other bands, Gold Foil, and was immediately hooked.  I then read a brilliant piece she wrote for Queen of the Track magazine discussing her then recent discovery of The Misfits (a band whose initial run I hold near and dear), that was part fan letter and part send-up, filtered through a discussion of the masculine and feminine in harder rock circles, and was even more intrigued.

For these purposes, the focus is her admiration for The Misftis’ blend of cartoonish levels of aggression and violence with music indebted to gentil, 50s crooner rock – blue angels transmogrified into pregnant Mexican women birthing still-born monster babies.  “Schedules” does provide the listener with a taught display of truly fiendworthy (sorry) guitar, bass and drum work which, combined with the extra sung syllable in “ali-I-ign” and doo-wop backing vocals starting around 1:40, reminded of songs like “Hatebreeders”.  Where Danzig and co. would play this on 11, however, Feature juxtapose the arrangement’s raw aggression with a vocal that manages to be both insouciant and breathless.  It’s perfect for pogoing (do people still do that?) and you’ll need some kind of drill to get the giant earworm of a chorus out of your brain, should you want to.  Can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.

Banishing Ritual is due April 7, on Upset the Rhythm; pre-order here.  Follow Feature on fbook and the twitt.