Tag Archives: punk

Reviews: Starchild and the New Romantic; Borzoi; Gen Pop, Rose Mercie; Datenight (US)

Our latest in a series of recaps of albums we loved from the last calendar year…

Starchild and the New Romantic, Language (Ghostly International)

Starchild and the New Romantic is the brainchild of New York-based Maryland transplant, Bryndon Cook. A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who has also worked with fellow travelers like Devonté Hynes and Solange Knowles, Language is an exemplary slice of lush, 80s-inflected r&b. Drums don’t so much hit as disperse, synths probe longingly, guitars flicker and wane. While the purple one’s haze hangs thick over this set, you also hear the ambitious, heart-on-sleeve arrangements of bands like Force MD’s or the Blue Nile – Cook’s revelatory voice reminiscent of the underlauded Jesse Johnson or Melvin Riley in its plaintive tenor notes. As an added bonus, ‘Only If U Knew’ and ‘Hangin’ On’ might be the best ‘quiet storm’ summoning slow jams I’ve heard in an age. It’s a record that takes things back and pushes them forward simultaneously. Highlights include: “Hangin’ On”; “Language”; “Good Stuff”.

Web: label bcamp fbook soundcloud

Borzoi, A Prayer for War (12XU)


Austin-based trio Borzoi released their latest, A Prayer for War, last September. I’ve listened to it many times since and, though I find it absolutely stunning, I’ve no real idea what to make of it – and that, friends, is what makes it great. Sure, there’s elements of punk, acid-drenched post-punk, funk, a free kinda jazz, noise, dweebs, wasteoids, dickheads, righteous dudes, a fuckin’ partridge in a mother fuckin’ pear tree. All there. In the end, though, the record breaks down to a feeling – and that feeling is “tenuously hinged”. The skittery, jittery atmosphere is shot through, here, with bursts of melody (“Schlock”) and, in many other places, with a heavy boot to the face (“Lizard Men of the Third Reich”). Buckle up. Highlights include: “Schlock”; “Big Pink”; “The Tonsure Twist”.

Web: label fbook bcamp  

Rose Mercie, S-T (SDZ; Monofonus Press)


Rose Mercie is a quartet based in Montreuil, France. Their debut, self-titled album came out last March, and it’s intoxicating. Stripping elements of hypnotic psych, folk and dream pop to their bare essentials – there’s nothing adulterated in the arrangements or production here – then building them up again, with a layer of girl group in the rhythms and vocal interplay. Tracks like highlight, ‘Moyen-Age’, recall a less ornamental Broadcast; elsewhere, ‘The End of Love’ projects The Raincoats jamming in a hazy flat with the Velvet Underground. While largely bucolic in feel, there is a bit of welcome menace “In the Valley” – it’s an album to sit with, the eight tracks unspooling at a deliberate pace. Settle in and listen. Highlights include: “Moyen-Age”; “Floating”; “How Can I Talk”.

Web: label label bcamp fbook soundcloud

Datenight (US),  Comin’ Atcha’ 100mph (Drop Medium)


Nashville, TN trio Datenight (US) serve up garage-punk with a side of power pop hooks and classic, driving midwestern rock on last February’s Comin’ Atcha’ 100mph. It’s an apt title, with no more than half of the dozen tracks in the set clocking in on the high side of two minutes. Each cut, though, leaves a mark; the melodies linger long after the band has roared on to the next. Be it the straight up Sonics’ garage rumble of ‘While it Lasts’, the blissful lo-fi jangle of ‘Poor Exchange’ or the perfected combo of highlight, ‘Tennessee Rider’, the set drips with brio – it’ll have you singing along, even when you don’t know any of the words. Fab. Highlights include: “Tennessee Rider”; “Poor Exchange”; “In and Out”.

Web: label bcamp fbook  

Gen Pop, II (Feel It)


Olympia, WA-based Gen Pop released a six-track EP last May, entitled II. Lifting off from their devastatingly potent debut, On the Screen (released less than a year prior), II offers a virulent slice of old school hardcore for the modern world. Featuring MaryJane Dunphy and Ian Corrigan from the fantastic Vexx, the band manages to push a swirl of sounds into a tight timeframe. [Update: MaryJane Dunphy has left the band. Elle Svete both sings and plays guitar on “No Change”] features tepid vocals transposed over Flex Your Head-summoning musical righteousness, while tracks like ‘Waxing State’ and ‘Din’ inject a bit of post-punk jitter and Buzzcocks’ guitar melodiousness. Highlights include: “No Change”; “Waxing State”.

Web: label bcamp [check out On the Screen here and/or here]

Reviews: Salad Boys, C.A.R., Ravyn Lenae, Zed Penguin, Ten High, Smokescreens

Part the second of our ‘apology tour’, in which we continue to dig through the list of records that touched us last year and make sure that we spread the good word. 

Salad Boys, This is Glue (Trouble in Mind)


Christchurch, New Zealand’s Salad Boys returned last February with their latest album, This is Glue, and it’s a thrilling listen. Opener, “Blown Off” lifts off with a thrum like a motorik “Kids in America”, before dissolving into a blissful Buzzcocks charged guitar run, and the remaining tracks employ shades of indie disco, the purest power-pop, pearlescent strum-pop (“Exaltation”), orphic psych and early REM jangle (“Psych Slasher”). It’s lush, without being cloying; polished, but still retaining scuff and patina. Highlights include: “Psych Slasher”; “Right Time”; “Going Down Slow”.

Web: label bcamp site

C.A.R., Pinned(Ransom Note)


Also released last February, Pinned, the latest from C.A.R. (the recording project of London-based Franco-Canadian Chloé Raunet) features elements of icy, Yaz(oo)-like new wave sensuality, post-punk empty spaces, and dubby trip-hop – all blended into transportive art-pop. There’s a Nina Hagen art-bounce meets Grace Jones cool on tracks like “Heat”, “Growing Pains” gradually adding gorgeous layers of glacial synths and ethereal background vocals to a stark bass/drum combo. C.A.R. has since released several remixes (I particularly enjoyed Peaking Lights’ remix of ‘Daughters’), one of which included a new song, “All But…”, as a b-side. Highlights include: “Growing Pains”; “Heat”; “Cholera”.

Web: label bcamp fbook insta site

Ravyn Lenae, Crush EP (Atlantic/Three Twenty Three Music)


Ravyn Lenae hails from Chicago, and released a smoke bomb of an EP last February called Crush. Lifting off even higher than her dizzying 2016 debut, Moon Shoes, the EP provides an intoxicating cache of silky smooth, new-old school r&b tracks. Lenae’s effortless voice balances featherweight highs and funky gnarl, moving stealthily through hazy grooves that evoke everything from Funkadelic, the Isleys, Erykah Badu, and Prince. Steve Lacey’s head-swimming production provides highlights as well (see the introduction of the bass in “Computer Luv”, on which he also provides vocal accompaniment). More of this, soon, please and thank you. Highlights include: “Closer (Ode 2U)”; “Computer Luv”.

Web: site twitt insta youtube fbook 

Zed Penguin, A Ghost, A Beast (Song, by Toad)


Sometimes, an album comes along whose constituent parts may seem familiar, but taking a step back to view the entire picture reveals something new and difficult to describe. A Ghost, A Beast, the debut full-length from Zed Penguin – the musical project of Edinburgh-based Australian, Matthew Winter – is such an album. The shapeshifting arrangements meld psych, chamber-pop, the wry, arty-rock of Zevon, and tensile post-punk, Winter’s tremulous tone recalling a mix of Joe Jackson and Ian McCullough. Some moments transcend – to wit, the glorious ‘End of Time’, with it’s shimmery jangle. Highlights include: “End of Time”; “Wandering”; “Violent Night”.

Web: label bcamp fbook twitt

Ten High, Autobondage EP (Hexbeat) 


Our Arkansas pals in Ten High released the Autobondage EP this past October, and it slays. Five fuzzed-out, gonzo tracks held together by a steady, powerful bass/drum battery. The roiling opener, ‘Dr. Choice’ (featuring vocals by drummer Devan Theos) couldn’t possibly be a more apt, ‘in the red’ introduction to the splendor on show here. Trading in the same gloriously trashy garage/blues/punk sleaze as debut, Self-Entitled, these tracks manage to tighten things up a notch, without losing any of their edge. Highlights include: “Dr. Choice”; “You Want It”.

Web: fbook bcamp

Smokescreens, Used to Yesterday (Slumberland)


L.A.-based quartet Smokescreens released their latest, Used to Yesterday, last summer. Appropriate to that season, the album is jam-packed with absolutely gorgeous power-(psych)pop and Paisley Underground-style hooks. The band’s online bio mentions a mutual admiration for Dunedin sound between founders Chris Rosi and Corey Cunningham, and you can hear it loud and clear on tracks like ‘Buddy’. But there’s also a US spin on things, with ‘Steel Blue Skies’ adding a slacker-y take, and the band channeling the Velvets on ‘Fool Me’. Highlights include: “Steel Blue Skies”; “Jolly Jane”; “Used to Yesterday”.

Web: label bcamp fbook twitt

Roundup, featuring BB and the Blips, CB Radio Gorgeous, Zerodent, Constant Mongrel, Corey Flood, Beta Boys, Pious Faults, Pink Thing and Permission!

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”.

Web: Insta Fbook Fire Talk

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”.

Web: Anti-Fade LaVidaEsUnMus Fbook

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”.

Web: Drunken Sailor Sorry State Bcamp Fbook  

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”.

Web: Feel It Erste There Tonträger

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”.

Web: LaVidaEsUnMus

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”.

Web: Bcamp

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”.

Web: Alien Snatch Fbook Bcamp

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”.

Web: Bcamp

Fa la la list!

We’re back with another list, featuring songs that have our tinnitus-riddled ears ringing like so many silver bells. Have a listen, won’t you?

Songs for a “Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness”, or Something – Enjoy!

New lists, featuring some of our favorite tracks carried along the blustery drafts of the changing seasons.

The first:

And, if you dare, a sequel:

Check Out the Split Release from Germ House and Far Corners

Germ House/Far Corners, Split Cassette (Fuzzy Warbles) 

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. 

Here’s Some of Our Favorite Tracks of the Last Few Weeks

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. 

Innocence Mission, “Green Bus” (Bella Union; Badman; P-Vine)

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. 

 

Sweat Out the Jams with Our New Playlist!

Check out our new playlist, featuring current faves (per usual, only the ones we could find on soundcloud – others to be shared). Enjoy!

A New Playlist for Your Ears!

Here’s a sampling of some artists we’ve been enjoying of late (yes, some tracks are older – blame soundcloud). Enjoy!

Check Out “Brick Walls”, the Latest from Beta Boys, As Well As “Laugh/Cry” from Their Forthcoming LP

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.