Tag Archives: punk

“Typical Girls, Volume 2” is the Comp That Keeps On Giving

Various, Typical Girls, Volume 2 (Emotional Response)

Compilations. “Comps”.  They come with a higher risk/reward factor than your average long-player.  Like soundtracks or anything filed under “V/A”, they can be a veritable goldmine:  a place to unearth new aural treasure; discover heretofore uncharted styles and territories; find a new band worth obsessing over.  For all they promise, though, comps are often fickle beasts.  Lured in by the inclusion of new or unreleased tracks from old favorites, you often find more coal than diamond in the rest.  Disillusioned, you create a playlist of the 3 or 4 good cuts and ignore the rest, cursing the heavens that you’ve been duped …again.  [Ok, that was a bit melodramatic, but it’s the first day following a long weekend]

All of which makes Typical Girls, Volume 2 – named for The Slits’ song and presented by the Emotional Response label as a “global celebration of female fronted bands” – such a satisfying listen.  Where the presence of tracks from bands including Flesh World, The World, Sex Stains and Cold Beat (this last a recent discovery) drew me in, what kept me hooked throughout was an impressively curated group of tracks showing a breadth of styles loosely grouped as ‘indie’, including post-punk, surf, punk, hardcore and straight up rock/roll.  New discoveries that had me running to the interwebs for a back catalogue listening party include:  the dizzying “Space is Bent” by Bent; the punk “La Bamba” of Midnight Snaxxx’s (yes, three exes) “No Time to Spend”; “Vallecas” by Juanita y los Feos, the now defunct – argh! – goth wave precursor to Rata Negra; the Wire-infused “Machine” from Naked Lights; the slinky mud-boogie of Soft Tug’s “Toys are Not for Children”; and the off the leash, old school hardcore of “Eat It“, by Patsy.  While I can’t say that every track here is my new favorite, and should be yours, as well (and, gentle reader, you wouldn’t believe me even if I did), what I can say is that each of these 16 tracks has something great to discover.  Explore.

Typical Girls, Volume 2, is available now from Emotional Response.  Once you’re done purchasing that, take a look through the label’s impressive catalogue (new and back) on bandcamp.  As for the bands, let your fingers do the walking.

Settle in and Submit to the Debut from Taiwan Housing Project, “Veblen Death Mask”

Taiwan Housing Project, Veblen Death Mask (Kill Rock Stars)

Thorstein Veblen was a late-nineteenth, early-twentieth century economist known for coining the term ‘conspicuous consumption’ (not, sadly, ‘priming the pump’) and lending a name to a “Veblen good”, one whose demand corresponds with its high price – a status symbol.  So, basically, Veblen was an early identifier and critic of the douchebag economy.  Which brings us – hard segue – to Veblen Death Mask, the debut long-player from Philly’s own disrupters, Taiwan Housing Project.  We’ve previously extolled the virtues of this particular project following release of their fantastic self-titled EP in 2015, and Veblen does nothing to mute this adulation.

As a statement of intent/table-setter, you’d be hard pressed to do better than “Salt Sugar Fire”, as Kilynn Lunsford’s multi-tracked, warbled and distorted voice projects the album’s overarching feel of an image deconstructed and rearranged in a room of fun house mirrors.  Threads of punk, no wave, glam, industrial, jazz; Wire, PJ Harvey, Diamanda Galás, Girl Band – core duo Lunsford and guitarist/feedback shaman/dial-up modem impersonator (“Authentic Alien Perfume”) Mark Feehan fleshed out the group with new members and new instruments, including violin, synth and everyone’s new/old fave, spazzy tenor sax grunts.  “Authentic Alien Perfume” is a heady brew of Cramps-y strut over a Peter Gunn rhythm, “Ideal Body Alignment” a fuzzed-up take on Pink Flag-era Wire, dissolving into a cacophonous rush of a chorus.  It’s a stunner from beginning to end, a series of disorientating soundscapes seizing control of the transmission to your TVs, smartphones, tablets, etc., that, despite flirting with the oft-derisively used “arty”, never succumb to self-indulgent wankery.  In fact, a less cruelly bland musical universe, the ‘rip her to shreds’ glam-stomp belter, “Multidimensional Spectrum” would be your go-to summer hit.  Request lines are open.

Veblen Death Mask is available now from Kill Rock Stars.  According to the press release accompanying the album, THP will be on tour in the US in July/August and in Europe in October/November.  In the meantime, you can stalk the band on fbook and the twitt and check the video for the title track, above.

Highlights include:  “Authentic Alien Perfume”, “Multidimensional Spectrum”, “Ideal Body Alignment”, “Eat or Be Eat”.

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.

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 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.

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.

Aquarian Blood Tease Forthcoming Goner Debut with Amplified Madness of “Heaven Is In My Head”; “Won’t Forget to Die” and “Asshole In the Castle”

Members of Aquarian Blood, whose new album is due February 10 on Goner Records.

Aquarian Blood features husband/wife duo JB (Ex-Cult) and Laurel Horrell (formerly of NOTS).  What began (according to the band’s bio) as a home recording project has turned into a full-blown one, and they’ve offered the world a three-act tease of their forthcoming debut, “Last Nite In Paradise”: “Heaven Is In My Head”; “Won’t Forget to Die” and “Asshole In the Castle”.

Fans of each spouse’s other projects will find much to like here.  “Heaven Is In My Head” is full-on, raging synth-punk.  Announcing itself with a Tron-summoning synth line, the band throw it all into the red: vocals yelp and rail, guitars squall and synths tase – like being spun around, blindfolded, to pin the tail on the donkey…for almost two minutes.  “Won’t Forget to Die” (which, as the lyrics remind us, “no one ever does”), slows things wayyyy down the rabbit hole, a hazy raga psych drone wraiths around a Joy Division-y bassline, the gypsy strings towards the end adding to the fug.  Last (in track order), “Asshole In the Castle” – its title sadly fitting in these days and times – is more of a straightforward punk record, albeit with layered vocals and an off-kilter guitar hook.  Together, the songs make for a thrilling joyride.  Can’t wait to hear the rest.

But wait we must, if but only for a bit longer:  “Last Nite In Paradise” is due February 10 from the always in vogue Goner.  Check the Aquarian Blood bandcamp page for (slightly) more info.

Sprain Your Neck to the Debut, Self-Titled Set from Brisbane’s Pious Faults

Pious Faults, S/T (Tenth Court, 12/20/2016)

Photo credit: Glen Schenau

‘There ain’t/ no future/here”

“Complete Disregard” – the opening song on the self-titled, six-track debut (I never know if that’s an ep, album, or ‘mini-lp’ anymore) from Brisbane’s Pious Faults – begins and ends with a short, sharp feedback stab in the earhole.  It’s a fitting way to start off a set of intense hardcore with an ear to the past and an eye on the present.

Many new bands are using the visceral aspects of early to mid-80s hardcore (American or otherwise), twisting and turning them to serve their own purposes. The applies, as well, to Pious Faults – several tracks here would’ve fit nicely on seminal 80s hardcore comps like Not So Quiet On the Western Front, Flex Your Head (as Vice also points out), or This Is Boston, Not L.A.  But there’s more at play here, with a rhythmic variety beyond blinding, four on the floor speed or d-beat rehash (see, “Rentrer à Quatre”) and a welcome lack of a predictable breakdown/‘mosh’ (does anyone still use that word?) bit or a shout-along chorus (really, choruses in general), all adding a welcome twist and the promise of future evolution.

As with any self-respecting h/c joint, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome (only one (one!) track is over a minute long – someone tell D.R.I.!), and it’s all the better for it; points made, ears rung, move along.

Out now on the fab Tenth Court label (home, also, to tgh fave Chook Race).  Order here.

The Self-Titled Debut from Tropical Skin Byrds Staggers

Tropical Skin Byrds, S/T EP (Wharf Cat Records, 1/13/2017)

‘your pain is my pleasure”

Tropical Skin Byrds is a musical trio comprised of artist Nina Hartmann on vocals and bass, ZZ Ramirez (of tgh fav, Ukiah Drag) on guitar and Sean Halpin on drums.

Teaser cuts, “Cut it Off” and “Venus In Fury” set the tone nicely, with Ramirez’s chugging, Ginnesque lines pushed way up front in the mix, backed by Halpin’s sledgehammer drumming.  The overall effect is blissfully disorienting, the music buffeting as Hartmann’s insistent cries strobe from somewhere at the center of the maelstrom (something in her vocal delivery recalls Lydia Lunch, crossed with Kyle Toucher – ok, maybe just me).  Stylistically, there are touches of Sonic Youth’s SST years (think Confusion Is Sex and songs like “Death to Our Friends”) and more experimental hardcore like Flipper and Saccharine Trust.  It’s a great, arresting listen.

The EP is out now, courtesy of the oh so fine Wharf Cat label (seriously, check the catalog).  Not much to find on the band, for now, so continue to scour the interwebs for any info relating to tours, further releases, fan club meet and greets, séances, etc.