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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Ten High are a new (to me) four piece based out of Fayetteville, AR. To date, the group has released three EPs, played shows will tgh faves like Aquarian Blood, and have name checked as inspiration several others, including the Blind Shake and Ex-Cult. Recently, drummer/vocalist Devan Theos was kind enough to pass along a link to their debut full-length, Self-Entitled (get it?), and I’m glad she did.
Self-Entitled finds Ten High tearing through an eleven-song set chock full o’ straight up r’nr, hints of psychobilly, 60s beat, hardcore, garage, psych – basically anything that sounds great played loud – all chewed up and spit out on a platter. Primary vocalist Cat Owens’ shredded pipes recall Reverend Beat Man’s gruff screed, pairing like a fine ripple with the jagged-edged guitar and short/sharp drum and bass combination of Theos and Aaron Smith (as a former – terrible – bassist, I love the thick, rubbery bass sound). Theos takes the mic sounding like a young Kate Pierson on the stomping “Skin Crawlers”, which comes off like a psychobilly take on Walk Among Us-era Misfits.
As with the best of so-called ‘noise’ rock, these tracks come based on infectious melodies residing dead center in the maelstrom. “Royal Blood” employs a bit of blues boogie, while “Fakers” had my brain checking to Three Dog Night, for fuck’s sake. Brilliant, even though I blame them for having “Mama Told Me Not to Come” for a full day…bygones.
Self-Entitled is available digitally and on cassette on April 5, courtesy of Rare Plant Records. Ten High will be on Greenway Records’ upcoming showcase at SXSW, for all you lucky mallards heading to Austin. There’s also a few dates before that, as well as a west coast US tour planned for the summer – check out the Ten High fbook for the dates.
Highlights include: “User’s Choice”; “Skin Crawlers”; “Fakers”; “The Trouble”.
Mr. Airplane Man, beloved crafters of garage-blues finery, returned to the scene after a multi-year hiatus in 2014, clearing out the vaults to release two fantastic album’s worth of unreleased material (Lost Tapes and Bits and Pieces), a live EP (Geneva Session), and playing shows all over the US and Europe. The promise of new material has hovered for a bit and, happily, the duo recently announced brand new long-player, Jacaranda Blue, due for digital release March 16. This announcement was preceded by a single – “I’m in Love” – which also serves as the lead track/taster for the album.
“I’m in love” shows Mr. Airplane Man returning no less smoldering than when they left. A trippy take on blues, sashaying along a slow-burn, ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ kinda groove, the track has a way of expanding and retracting in your head. It’s a long-distance phone call to a love through a whiskey-induced fugue state, a rapturous profile in the glowing embers of a cigarette drag. Margaret Garrett’s vocals – punctuated here and there with otherworldly coos and moans – emanate from somewhere down the other end of the line, faintly tethered by the gossamer light drumming of Tara McManus. It’s a dizzying, seductive cut.
In addition to the digital release, which you can pre-order here, look for Jacaranda Blue on vinyl, courtesy of the mighty Sympathy for the Record Industry in the US, and on french label Beast in Europe. Mr. Airplane Man – a live force not to be missed – have a few upcoming dates as well, which you can find on their website. You can also wander the woods with them on fbook.