Empty Markets, Stainless Steel (12XU Austin, 4/8/2016)
Churning, relentless, fantastic new hardcore/punk from Austin, TX three piece, Empty Markets.
Stainless Steel marks the group’s debut, lead singer/guitarist Drew Schmitz having previously been involved in bands like Cruddy and Hex Dispensers. While there’s definitely a whiff of the old school – “Pink and Barren World” sounds like an interpolation of “Teenagers from Mars”, and the sonic energy recalls past masters like Black Flag, The Offenders and Die Kreuzen – Empty Markets, like other newer bands like Ex-Cult and fellow Texans, Institute, incorporate noise, post-punk and post-hardcore (think Drive Like Jehu) ambience into the punk template, elevating it past d-beat rehash or mid-tempo, street punk boredom.
Front to back, this is one of the best new punk records I’ve heard in years (coming from a somewhat jaded, ‘old school’ – like, early 80s – h/c guy). The arrangements, as well as the playing, are both muscular and extremely tight throughout. Schmitz’s guitar playing is inspired. The rhythm section of drummer Jordan Rivell and now former bassist Wendy Wright create crisp, sharp rhythmic blasts. Wright (replaced, since the album’s recording, by Stephen Svacina) has a driving, out front bass style that recalls folks like Mikey Offender, and her vocal interplay with Schmitz is a consistent highlight. Loud. Sweaty. Cathartic. Recommended.
Highlights include: “New Religion”, “Pink and Barren World”, “Rash Decision”, “Bulging Affidavits”.