Tag Archives: rock

Obnox Return with a Niggative Approach

Obnox, Niggative Approach (5/30/2017, 12XU)


Obnox is the musical alter ego of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Lamont ‘Bim’ Thomas (pictured).  Having released five long-players under this moniker in the last 3 years, the word ‘prolific’ seems apt.  I must admit that new release, Niggative Approach, is the first one I’ve fully sat down with – and now I’m both damn glad I did and in a hurry to dig deeper into the earlier material.

The title might be a wink and a bow to Detroit hardcore godheads Negative Approach (whose singer, John Brannon, makes an appearance on the album’s intro and outro), but the album is far too diverse, dense and interesting to damn with the faint praise of a hyphenated ‘punk’ or other descriptor.  Frankly, there’s so much going on in this record, it can be giddily overwhelming.  Jazz, psych, garage, soul, blues, punk, funk, r&b, hip hop, Beastie Boys, Funkadelic, Rudy Ray Moore, Kid Congo, D’Angelo, Shabazz Palaces, Sun Ra, War, Curtis Mayfield, MF Doom, sky high riffs, heavy funk bass, kick drum grooves, eye of newt and a partridge in a motherfuckin’ pear tree – all this and more await across the album’s 14 tracks (excluding intro-/outro).

I found it best to just strap in, give in, and let it all wash over me, repeated listens bearing ever sweeter fruit.  The spy theme raga of “You”.  The hot, humid synth feel of “Hardcore Matinee”.  The wide lapel groove of “”Beauty Like the Night”.  The diamond amidst the rough of the beautiful “Carmen, I Love You”.  Exhale.

Niggative Approach is out now, on 12XU.  Monitor M. Thomas’ (social media) movements on fbook and the twitt.  No tour dates as yet, but here’s hoping.

Highlights include: “Audio Rot”; “Afro Muffin”; “Carmen, I Love You”; “You”; “Niggative Approach”; “Beauty Like the Night”.

“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.

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.

Rush Headlong Into “Midnight Junkie”, by Brooklyn’s Baked. New Album, “Farnham”, Out Now on Exploding in Sound.

Baked, “Midnight Junkie” (Exploding in Sound)

This just in from the local weather bureau – a.k.a., my window.  It’s windy. I mean like, shit is creaking and banging and I don’t even know what it is windy.  It’s also wondrously sunny – like, over-exposed 9mm film of an old road trip sunny.

So, as I’m sitting here, squinting and expecting the Wicked Witch of the West to cycle by any moment, I stumble upon this gem of a track – “Midnight Junkie”, by Brooklyn five-piece Baked – and it all clicks.  The track is a magnificent howl, with a glowing melody at its heart that leaves you seeing spots and a guitar shred at around 2 minutes like they don’t make much of anymore, all held tenuously earthbound by a dolorous, Jim Reid-esque croon.  It’s the perfect aural accompaniment to the arboreal bowing and scraping taking place outside under the watchful glare of an ever nearing fireball.

“Midnight Junkie” is taken from Baked’s latest long-player, Farnham, which was released last week on Exploding in Sound and which I can’t wait to dig further into.  If you’re headed to SXSW, you can catch Baked at the Exploding in Sound showcase March 16 at The Velveeta Room.  Follow Baked on fbook bandcamp and the twitt.

“Do What You Want To”, the New Single from Olympia’s VEXX, Puts the Strut in Punk

VEXX, “Do What You Want To” (M’Lady’s Records (US): Upset! The Rhythm (EUR/UK))

Olympia’s VEXX made an immediate impact on ears/minds/souls in 2014 with their debut, self-titled EP.  Then followed last year’s equally fantastic, if more nuanced, “Give and Take” 7”, which saw the band stretch their scorched earth punk/hc with touches of the serious blues and r&b riffage hinted at on debut tracks like “Strength” and “Ocean Shores”.

Now, VEXX returns with “Do What You Want To” – the first taste of new EP/mini-LP “The Wild Hunt”.   It’s a groovy amalgam of punk/blues crunch and 70s power-pop strut, with a seriously killer Chuck Berry riff and a rhythmic shimmy evoking visions of spandex jumpsuits and the sounds of The Sex Pistols to Sweet to the Runaways.

If your issue with power-pop is its tendency towards a more mawkish (and male-driven) take on romance/‘getting some’, fear not gentle reader.  For while singer Maryjane Dunphe is enticed by the person who’s caught her eye, they receive the titular line to do as they wish – no falsetto plea to ‘go all the way’, here, as the track begins to unravel before ending abruptly with a shriek.  All killer; no filler.

“The Wild Hunt” is due in October as a joint release of two excellent labels: M’Lady’s Records out of Portland, OR and the UK’s Upset! the Rhythm – and is available for pre-order now via either/or.  Do what you wanna, &etc.  While you’re doing that, you can check out more about VEXX here.

Review: The Monsieurs, “High School Star” 7″

The Monsieurs, “High School Star” (Goodbye Boozy Records)

Following their crazy good (and, in parts, just plain ol’ crazy) 2014 self-tltled album, Boston scuzz-punk rockers The Monsieurs are back with a new double-a side single, “High School Star/Jack of Hearts”.

We here at thegrindinghalt wanted to give a glowing review of The Monsieurs (the album) but were, frankly, to busy listening to it and breaking shit to actually get around to writing one, so…if you haven’t yet experienced that aural Misfits/Ramones/Monks/Sha Na Na knife fight (actual knife fight, mind, none of that West Side Story or “Beat It” nonsense) do so, ok?  Great, thanks.

Anywho, “High School Star” continues the three chords and a cloud of dust assault of the full-length.  The band is at full strength here, piledriving their way through roughly two and one-half minutes of relentless rock.  Singer Andy California still sounds like he’s sing/screaming through a swarm of bees over a Hilken Mancini guitar slash reminiscent of “Wild Thing”, while Erin King provides the rhythmic stomp.  While I’m missing, a bit, the backup ‘sha la las’ so prevalent on the album, this still rages.

“High School Star” is out now on Goodbye Boozy Records, a label out of Teramo, Italy that is also home to other great bands like Sick Thoughts and The Husbands.

Check out The Monsieurs on fbook or the twit.

New (To Me!) Band of the Day: The Jack Bennies

New (to me) Artist of the Day – The Jack Bennies

Difficult to find a lot of info on this band, but here’s what we think we know about the band, after exhaustive* research:

– they may have six members (website lists Idle Edsel – Vocals, Bobby Conquer – Guitar, Paddy Bullocks – Guitar, Lance Brainstrong – Guitar, Johnny Davenport – Bass, and Jubal Fearing – Drums) or 9 (Facebook page has a different list of names, aside from repeat offender Fearing) – side note: 3 guitars!! suck that, .38 Special!;

– their name may actually be The Jacked Bennies (website is under this name, but not Facebook, and it also comes up on the google); not sure.

Here are the things we can say for sure about the band:

– they hail from the land of Gabe Kotter;

– members were previously in bands such as Saint Bastard and the Candy Snatchers;

– they kick butt.

Gloriously sloppy, sweaty, down and dirty rock and/or roll from NYC.  Not young, perhaps, but definitely loud and snotty.  Chancing upon a magical spike found lying, unassuming, in a trash-strewn alleyway in the Bowery, The Jack(ed) Bennies tapped the Dead Boys/Heartbreakers vein, throwing in some Stoogey proto-punk and Motör(head)boogie for good measure, vocalist Edsel/Diedrick snarling and yowling like the reincarnation of Stiv himself.  Boss tunes that never go out of style.

Debut full length, Chopping Down the Weeds, is out now on Human Head Records and can be purchased through Goner, Slovenly or Juno in the UK, among other places.  Go forth and like them on the usual social media blah blah and celebrate them live July 25 at Otto’s Shrunken Head, if you happen to live near New York City.  Shout out to the mighty Late Risers’ Club for the pro tip.

Check out: “Sweet Sally”, “Plastic Pat”, “What You Want”.

*Actual research may not have been overly exhausting.

Review: White Manna, PAN

White Manna, PAN (Cardinal Fuzz (UK); Captcha (US))

A dose of riff-heavy psych candy from White Manna, a five-piece band hailing from Arcata, California.

Arcata is a city in Humboldt County, an area of Northern California known for (based on my own, incomplete understanding – and Wikipedia):  dense, lush forests; long, beautiful stretches of coastline; earthquakes; and, um, weed.  These natural elements and wide-open vistas (and, um, weed) are all in evidence throughout PAN, the band’s new offering.

PAN’s six tracks soundtrack a space truckin’ joyride through time, veering off the road and over the “Land of the Lost” waterfall into a primordial world filled with the roar of ten-story riffs, looming above a dense fog, while underneath tectonic rumblings roll and buckle.  Tracks such as “Evil” and the relentless “Dunes I” churn with the stomp and kick of bands like The Stooges, Hawkwind and Machine Head-era Deep Purple, with a bit of a garage and punk slant and a Sabbath-worthy buzz.  Swirling cascades of reverb bump and grind with organ lines that sing praises to the (Jon) Lord; out front, the Danzigian croon of singer David “J” Johnson.  Several songs linger past the seven-minute mark, but maintain the same, tensely coiled punch of shorter, faster tracks.

PAN is out now on Cardinal Fuzz (UK) and Captcha Records (US).  The digital version on iTunes includes two bonus tracks, a live reworking of Hawkwind’s “Master of the Universe” and “Slow Dust”.

Go, like the band on Facebook and, if you’re fortunate to live close by, check them out June 19 at The Peg House in Leggett, CA or June 20 at the Brick and Mortar Music Hall in San Francsico.

Highlights include:  “Evil”, “Dunes I”, “Pan”.

New Track: Dot Dash, Rainclouds

Dot Dash, “Rainclouds” (The Beautiful Music)

 

This D.C.-based quartet has been releasing records since 2011 – though, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to having missed the boat on these guys up ’til now.

The lineup is packed full of D.C. scene muscle, featuring vets of acts such as Minor Threat, Government Issue, Youth Brigade, Swervedriver and Julie Ocean. “Rainclouds”, taken from new album Earthquakes and Tidal Waves – out now on The Beautiful Music – arrived in our inbox from the band themselves (THANKS!).

The song cleaves a channel between the punkier side of power-pop and the woozy, post-punk take on pop of mid-period Wire (the band’s name is taken from the title of a Wire song, though not one from that period).  Lead singer Terry Banks sounds…go with me…a bit like a two-faced Janus – one side Colin Newman; the other, Robyn Hitchcock – fronting first album Cheap Trick, The Records or Hoodoo Gurus, throwing kiss-offs to a friend ‘neath a perpetual dark cloud: “summer breezes dancing through the trees/and you can put, the blame on me/your concrete shoes are giving you the blues/I’m footloose and fancy free”.  Throw in some sweet falsetto and you’ve got the makings of a breezy, yet muscular track.  Can’t wait to listen to more from the band.

Check the band out on Facebook and/or Twitter.  Earthquakes and Tidal Waves is available on iTunes or via the band’s Bandcamp page.

New (To Me!) Band of the Day: Sheer Mag

7” (Wilsuns RC)

“Button Up” (Katorga Works)

Sheer Mag are a Philadelphia-based outfit with an obvious love of ‘70s rawk.  Many reviewers have pointed to the obvious indebtedness to blues/hard “classic” rock stalwarts like Thin Lizzy (hell, the band’s logo on their Bandcamp page even looks like a cross between those of Lizzy, Van Halen and, um, early Voivod) and their take on muscular, blues-y riffage.  I can’t help but hearing tuneage that would’ve fit nicely with a lot of the 70s output of labels like Stiff Records.

That is, gloriously throwback rock and roll; a messier version of the slick sound of ‘70s FM rock radio.  Bands indebted to a leaner, simpler, catchier vision of blues rock; more T. Rex stomp than Led Zeppelin pomp.  There’s more than a hint of the fuzzed-out power pop of a Wreckless Eric or The Only Ones on songs like “Hot Lovin’” and “What You Want” from their debut 7” (even the song titles are as ‘70s as bellbottoms and shagwagons, no?).  Singer Christina Hallady’s pipes sound like they’re fittin’ to burst under the weight of all that fuzz, as she channels the fiery throatiness of the likes of Joan Jett.  On new track, “Button Up” (from an upcoming 7” to be released on Katorga Works), the band sound (a bit) less charmingly messy, but more anthemic.  Building from a straight-up Chuck Berry as channeled by Angus Young riff, the song uses an overlay of surprisingly shimmery guitar to accent the proceedings.

This shit is fun – get out your hair brush and sing along, then get out of the house and check them out on tour.