Check Out “Human Snake”, the Debut from P22

Image from P22 Bandcamp page.

P22, Human Snake (Post Present Medium)

P22 are a Los Angeles-based quartet comprising Sofia Arreguin, Nicole-Antonia Spagnola, Justin Tenney, and Taylor Thompson.  Named for a mountain lion that crossed the notorious 405 interstate to disappear into L.A.’s Griffith Park, the band’s debut full-length, Human Snake, was released in April and it’s fantastic.

While P22 could be generally classified as “punk”, it’s perhaps too restrictive and lazy a label to place on a group who make music that throws so many curves.  Yes, there’s plenty of straight up hardcore (of the west coast variety), but swaddled in a hairshirt of different textures and tempos – elements of free jazz, jangle, noise, no wave, and classical pop up, with a vocal delivery that feels as much driven by beat poetry as post-punk.  My (admittedly, older) ears kept going back to bands like Flipper, Saccharine Trust – ‘punk’ bands that weren’t interested in only playing something traditionally categorized as such.  ‘Intro’ is a good example, starting off sounding like Saint-Saens, before settling into a tense, ominous noir of loosely strummed guitar, then dissolving into some kind of beatnik marching band number and leaving on a deconstructed freakout. 

All these twists and turns keep you on your toes, but don’t feel as though they’re forcing the band’s art into artifice.  The band’s playing is incredibly tight, a fact that is sometimes missed due to the mesmerizing vocal performance, but shouldn’t be ignored (I particularly enjoyed the basslines throughout – particularly on highlight, ‘Shortly’).  Fun bonus:  I now know what a ‘terminarch’ is (the last member of a species or subspecies, in case you wondered); #themoreyouknow #edutainment.  Highly recommended.

Human Snake is available now, courtesy of Post Present Medium.

Weblabel bandcamp 

Highlights include:  ‘Human Snake, 1978’; ‘Shortly’; ‘Reprise for Steer’; ’Ending Chorus for the Terminarch’ 

Check Out “Less of Everything”, from Es

Es, Less of Everything (Upset the Rhythm)

Photo credit: Poppy Cockburn

Less of Everything is the debut full-length from Es, a London, UK-based four piece comprising vocals, bass, synth and drums.  It’s a sharp, gripping collection of goth-infused punk that deserves a wide audience.

Tauter in feel and execution than Object Relations, the band’s great 2016 EP, Es come flying out of the gates with opener, ‘Chemicals’.  A roiling, Banshee sounding rhythm and chunky bassline underpin vocalist Maria Cecilia Tedemalm’s lyrical quandary – “what have I acquired/to be getting/so tired” – a musing equally apt in these pandemic times as it is a statement of more general frustration and feeling of uncertainty.  Tedemalm sings of an existence where a necessary tough skin becomes “too thick” (‘Foundation’), a sense of “hanging by a thread/uncertainty/lies ahead” (‘Severed’), grasping at straws “with my mind” (‘Hidden Track’), but also a fightback, rising “fully formed” (‘Sesame’) – lines delivered with equal parts withering dismissiveness and rising indignation.  

While the band’s various parts and shapes sync to great affect throughout, a particular mention is needed for the amazing bass playing of Katy Cotterell and drumming of Tamsin M. Leach.  Being guitarless, Cotterell’s bass plays a dual role of holding down the fort and leading the melodic charge, while the heft and sway of Leach’s drum hones the album’s overall percussively trippy feel.  Musical signposts can be heard in the aforementioned Banshees, 17 Seconds-era The Cure, X-Mal Deutschland, Savages – the tension and drama across the nine tracks is palpable.  One personal favorite (if I have to pick), ‘Severed’, almost veers into pop territory before the synth turns ominous and pushes the track over the edge and down the rabbit hole.  A fantastic debut.

Less of Everything is out now, courtesy of Upset the Rhythm.

Webbandcamp twitt label insta

Highlights include:  ‘Sesame’; ‘Chemicals’; ‘Severed’; ‘Kingdom Come’

Friday Playlist

Here’s “Sprung”, our latest playlist of new found sounds, for your enjoyment. Take a listen, and follow us on Spotify.

Check Out Gaffer’s Self-Titled Demo

Band photo credit: Kyle Biggins (sourced from Weirdo Wasteland)

Gaffer, S-T demo (Helta Skelta)

Gaffer are a new band out of Perth, Australia, featuring members of powerhouses like Cold Meat and Helta Skelta (the band).  Having just formed last year (I think), the band recently released its self-titled demo via Helta Skelta (the label), and it’s a riveting debut.

Each of the tape’s seven tracks sound as if it was recorded live, such is the intensity.  The set features raw, determined punk and post-punk sounds whose origins may sound from the mists of time but the tone of which remain sharply relevant.  Frustration, isolation, the feel of being under the yoke – an anxiety made palpable by the arrangements and playing, with song titles like ‘Animal’, ‘Skin of Your Teeth’, and ‘Stuck’ serving as signposts.  The demo has the diaristic feel of albums from early Black Flag (particularly, Damaged), The Mob, Flux of Pink Indians, or early Killing Joke.  The vocalist inhabits a kind of younger Willy Loman character, one being told he’s “got everything to live for” while simultaneously feeling like he’s moving through life “with a noose on”.  On ‘Skin of Your Teeth’ – one of many highlights – the not so quiet desperation finds form in lyrics like “can’t do this anymore/getting through by the skin of your teeth…/no real purpose/no real energy/no end product”.

Gaffer’s demo is available now, on cassette, from Helta Skelta.  Looking forward to hearing what the band does next.  In the meantime, you can check out the video of their first live gig here.

Weblabel

Highlights include:  ‘Animal’; ‘Skin of Your Teeth’; ‘No Pace’

Check Out “Debuts”, from Pop Crimes

Band photo © fanny pommé

Pop Crimes, Debuts (Howlin’ Banana) 

Pop Crimes is a Paris-based quartet who share a name with the title of an album from Rowland S. Howard (RIP), and include members of (amongst others) En Attendant Ana.  Debuts, the band’s appropriately titled first release, is a brilliant four song introduction to a very anglophilic sounding group of francophones. 

On Debuts, Pop Crimes demonstrate a wicked proficiency in fusing the blissful and the barbed –  c86-style jangle and slacker indie, weighted with the crunch of garage and shoegaze and a soupçon of Libertines-like louche swagger.  Perfect example:  the hazy, scuffed pop of ‘Goes’, with antipodean shades of groups like The Church and the swing and swagger of early Ride or The House of Love.  Like the best of bands who wear their collective influences on their sleeves, the set brings fond memories without sounding like mere rehash.  Very much looking forward to hearing what comes next.  

Debuts was released in January, courtesy of Howlin’ Banana – allez, go pick it up!

Web: bcamp fbook label

Higlights include: ‘Goes’; ‘Always Lover’

New Playlist!

Here’s a new playlist, featuring tracks both new and in memory of those we lost this past week (Little Richard, Betty Wright, Florian Schneider, and Andre Harrell (Uptown)). Enjoy – and follow us on Spotify, if you’re so inclined.

Check Out the Self-Titled Debut from Minneapolis’ Green/Blue

[Photo by Matthew Jenkins (taken from Green/Blue Facebook page)]

Green/Blue, S-T (Slovenly)

A new band of old hands, Minneapolis (Janet voice)-based Green/Blue present a jagged kind of garage-pop on their self-titled debut. Initially a recording project featuring the guitar/vocal stylings of Jim Blaha (of The Blind Shake) – whose solo basement musings formed the bases for the album’s eleven tracks – and Annie Sparrows (of The Soviettes), the group is now a quartet, having added Danny Henry (drums, also of The Soviettes) and Hideo Takahashi (bass, of The Birthday Suits).

The album is a hodgepodge of familiar sounding styles, blended into something very immediate.  According to a press release, the tracks on Green/Blue were born partially from Blaha’s “newfound love of lo-fi pop jangle” (namechecking The Chills), but Green/Blue’s handling of the sound feels similar to the way The Misfits approached late-night 50’s croon or The Jesus and Mary Chain worked with girl-group, surf and other 60’s pop.  There’s certainly sugary tones to be found here, the band exhibiting a deft touch for catchy melodies – but the ear candy is often chased with cough syrup, Blaha’s whispery vocals and he and Sparrows’ dual scuzzed up axe attack providing more than a hint of menace to the romance alluded to in many of the lyrics.  Highlights ‘Proto Caves’ and ‘Way Down’ throw off a kind of haunted nostalgia, the former sounding like a roughneck Everly Brothers demo in spots – a leather-clad sock hop leading to a fogged up rear window.  It’s great how the band are able to infuse so much energy into the boogie chug of ‘That Face’, while the JAMC pyres blaze bright on the brilliant ‘Find a New World’.  Qué bella. 

Green/Blue is out now, courtesy of Slovenly Recordings.  The band also have really rad shirt designs (see here), so hopefully if we’re ever allowed out of our houses again and Green/Blue tour, I’ll snatch one up.

Highlights include:  ‘That Face’; ‘Proto Caves’; ‘At a Loss’; ‘Way Down’

Web: fbook label bandcamp insta

 

Our Latest Playlist for Your Ears

Check Out the Self-Titled, Debut Single from Glasgow’s Goldie Dawn

Goldie Dawn’s Kate Rambo

Goldie Dawn, S-T (Drunken Sailor) 

The self-titled debut 7” from Glaswegian quartet, Goldie Dawn, is a loud, snotty piece of very diy rock.  Oozing boogie woogie choogle, it’s four, riff-heavy tracks bathe in the showers following Johnny’s thunders, with a heady dose of Bolan pomp and Sex Pistols grease thrown in for good measure. 

Goldie Dawn’s musical stomp finds the band standing firmly on the necks of the ℅ ’77 punk giants and their influencers.  ‘Crime’ rolls in on a Stooges worthy guitar muddle and proceeds to doff its cap to first album The Damned with a “smash it up/break it up” chant (the band even sells totes with M. Vanian’s mug).  Personal fave, ‘What’s Inside (Never Dies)’, uses monster Chuck Berry riffage to soundtrack the lyrical kiss-off to a turncoat friend.  It’s thrillingly raw stuff – the band members sound like they’re bouncing into and off one another during the recording.  Kate Rambo’s sneering vocals are perfect, her almost breathless delivery makes it sound like she’s singing from the middle of the pit.  Lines such as “be the beast/be the burden/be the idol that they all must worship” (‘Crime’) serve as a manifesto.  After the melee of the first three tracks, the stumbling country of closer, ‘It’s Nothing to Me’, feels a fitting soundtrack to getting the bum’s rush.  Polished? nope.  Ass-shaking? yep.  Guaranteed to make your hands raw from keeping time with the claps.  

The single arrives May 29, courtesy of the lovely folks at Drunken Sailor.  It’s up on bandcamp now to stream and pre-order the vinyl.  Do it.

Web: insta label bandcamp

Check Out “Octagon City”, from Melbourne’s Mystery Guest

Mystery Guest, Octagon City (Tenth Court)

Melbourne, AUS-based Mystery Guest recently put out one of our favorites of the year, so far, with their debut full-length. Starting with the current sitch-appropriate line “are you feeling stressed?”, the title track opener serves as a kind of starchild meets ‘1984’ informercial. For those pining for “the roundness of a circle, and the structure of a square – at the same time” here for your pleasure, ladies and gents, is Octagon City

Comprised of Patrick Telfer and Caitlyn Lesiuk, Mystery Guest make trippy, louche dance music with a decidedly downtown feel. Part of a continuum stretching back to the art damaged Lower East Side of the 70s, the jubilant DIY disco of a leftfield Factory Records signing, through bohemian dance like Deee-Lite and Luscious Jackson, and on to current arch-stylists like International Teachers of Pop, the album’s nine tracks groove, tease, and slap – all the while taking pleasure, from a distance, at the goofy grin forming on your face. 

Highlights are many. ‘Redeem’ has a sultry grooviness that calls to mind 80s r&b and The Style Council-esque mod pop. The back-to-back one-two of ‘Get Up’ and ‘Red Dance’ are slow motion bangers; the former adding hints of afropop to the arrangement, the latter riding a seriously elastic bassline.  ‘Mystery Party’ comes off as a sensual re-drawing of ‘Vogue’ – “lift your skirts/hertz by hertz” is one of the best dance floor commands of this or any year, and the track is currently tied with Too Free’s ‘Gold’ in our 2020 “best use of 808 cowbell” awards.  ‘Moon, Moon’ feels positively Roxy in its decayed romance – “our celestial bodies/making the waves/singing to drown/the church upon the knaves” (is that a hint of ‘Always, Forever’ at the one minute mark?).  All this groove is beautifully anchored by Lesiuk’s unflustered vocals.  Oozing charisma, I love the way she reshapes and stretches certain syllables, adding to the grandeur. 

Beguiling and a bit cheeky, Octagon City is very highly recommended. The shape of their love is an octagon – step on in.

Octagon City is out now, courtesy of Tenth Court.

Webfbook label bandcamp

Highlights include:  ‘Redeem’; ‘Moon, Moon’; ‘Get Up’; ‘The Day Lou Died’.