Category Archives: Reviews

Check Out “Some Beautiful Species Left”, the New Album from Melbourne’s EXEK

Cover photo by Robyn Daly

EXEK, Some Beautiful Species Left (SDZ; Anti-Fade; Digital Regress)

Melbourne, AUS five-piece EXEK released their latest long-player, Some Beautiful Species Left,  last month. A follow up to last year’s double, A Casual Assembly and Ahead of Two Thoughts, the album finds the band further fine-tuning their kitchen sink production approach (the promo for the album mentions use of kitchen appliances in the recording, so I couldn’t resist) – and the results are phenomenal.

“Hobbyist” opens the proceedings along a discordant whine that sounds produced by something hand-cranked, unfurling into a full-on motorik headbuzz. Amidst the din, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Albert Wolski teasingly invites the listener to ‘go on/have a second guess’, like a spaced out Mark E. Smith fronting Clinic. It’s a fittingly bewildering start to a record that’s equal turns arresting, unsettling, chaotic, caustically hilarious and inspiring. Strings, horns, guitars, bass, drums, and persistent echo chambah effects swirl into a musical trail mix including dub, abrasive post-punk (pre-Brix The Fall, Wire, Metal Box-era PiL), jazz, and Syd-led Floyd experimentalism.

Highlights are many: the jittery dub of “Lobbyist”; the intriguing guitar/vibraphone (I think?) interplay on “Plastic Sword Retractable”; “Iron Efficiency”’s rugged narco-psych; the lightheaded, infectious melody of “Unetiquetted”. Instruments traditional and non- at times sound as if they’re being played forwards and backward simultaneously, Wolski’s gnomic sing-chant recalling bits of the aforementioned Barrett and Smith, Robyn Hitchcock and Jah Wobble in tone. 

The magic of Some Beautiful Species Left lies in how it all hangs together – even for a listener who maybe has a more punk-inclined/birdlike musical attention span (cough). Veering from sprawling to terse, short blasts, the album’s eight tracks go in many directions. But for all the experimentalism on display, EXEK’s jammier tendencies enthrall rather than disappear too far into the navel. Perhaps a cheeky reference can be found in closer, “How the Curve Helps” (at 8:11, the longest track on the album), Wolski intoning ‘about an hour ago/I should have left’. We’re good to hang out longer.

Some Beautiful Species Left is out now, courtesy of the good folks at SDZ (Europe/Africa), Anti-Fade (AUS/Asia) and Digital Regress (North America).

Highlights include: “Iron Efficiency”; “Commercial Fishing”; “Lobbyist”; “Unetiquetted”.

Web: bcamp fbook label label label

Fade Into “Gun” and “On the Attack”, from Moon Panda

Moon Panda, “Gun”; “On the Attack” (self-released)

Moon Panda is a quartet based in London and Brighton, UK. Led by vocalist/bassist Maddy Myers and guitarist Gustav Moltke (George Godwin and Alfie Webber round out the set), the band features members from the US, Denmark and the UK. They’ve self-released a trio of singles over the past year plus, including the two latest – “Gun” and “On the Attack”.

The group describe themselves as making ‘dreamy space pop for dreamy space people”, and you can’t accuse them of false advertising. The gauzy feel of “Gun” pushes the band towards a sound reminiscent of trip hop bands like Morcheeba or Zero 7, as well as Parachute-era Coldplay. Myers’ fragile, whispery vocals complement the mood, a pleasingly dark undertone provided by lyrical musings on the non-greeting card aspects of love (‘even the sweetest thoughts/get twisted’). The slightly more in focus “On the Attack” comes off a bit like a velvet-gloved PJ Harvey, a psych nibble on quietly lush chords invoking Bête Noire-era Bryan Ferry.

Both tracks illustrate Moon Panda’s aptitude for building engrossing tunes on serpentine grooves and echo-laden melodies. The band’s website mentions that these tracks, together with others, will be released as the Pastel Pools EP later in 2019. Looking forward to it.

Web: site fbook soundcloud youtube bcamp twitt

Check Out “Manic Static”, from New Zealand’s Warm Leather

Cover art by MF Joyce

Warm Leather, Manic Static/Vocabulary 7” (self-released)

Warm Leather are a trio of initialed gentlemen hailing from Auckland, New Zealand (to be more precise, AT (guitars/vocals, JP (drums) and MF (er, ropes?)). We don’t know much about them, aside from what’s on their fbook and the fact they recently played Gonerfest, which is how we had our heads turned by their excellent debut single, Manic Static.

Don’t let any preconceptions of Warm Leather’s home country lead you astray – this is defo not the jangle-pop you’re listening for when you reflexively think of bands hailing from this part of the world. Instead, what you get is a punch straight in the gob (that’s the right term, n’est pas?). The a-side charges in on a riff that had me thinking of a heavy take on ‘Rock Lobster’, AT weaving a tale of insomnia  (“I got a buzzin’ in my head/tossin’ and turnin’ in my bed/… but the needle keeps on swinging into the red”) over rough guitars and a heavy, compact rhythm section (the drum sound, in particular, packs a wallop). The band cite such luminaries as The Birthday Party and Wire as influences, and who are we to argue? But the rather maniacal breaking point in AT’s vocal delivery on both tracks (b-side, “Vocabulary”, is equally good) reminds of Kurt Cobain at his weirdest/best (see, e.g., “Turnaround”). In fact, that’s what this single felt like most – early Nirvana, at their rawest. Tuneful, yes, but shot through with a paranoid energy. All good; rec’d.

The Manic Static single is available now, order your copy here. Warm Leather have a show upcoming November 1, at Cupid Bar in Port Chevalier, New Zealand – details here.

Web: fbook bcamp

Follow North Carolina’s ISS Down the “Elevator Shaft”

ISS, “Elevator Shaft” (Sorry State)

ISS is the North Cacalack-based duo of Rich Ivey and Eddie Schneider. Vets of local punk bands like Whatever Brains and Brain F# (a/k/a ‘Brain Flannel’), as ISS they make ‘punk’ (in the ‘outsider’ sense as much as, if not more so, rote musical form) that is among the more interesting out there. 

The band’s forthcoming long-player, Alles 3rd Gut (reference to third release and all’s good? I only took German in high school) features the streamable preview track, “Elevator Shaft”. It sounds like a brilliant, lost 80s cut, built around a conversation between Ivey – laying prone at the bottom of the titular shaft – and guest vocalist, Miss Lady (sounding a bit like Victoria Jackson). Questions abound: how did he fall (doesn’t remember)?; any damage done (lots of blood, gnarly looking ankles)?; will she lend a hand (maybe…or maybe she’ll push him back in)? A risible take on poppy, guy-girl indie, “Elevator Shaft” seems like what Jane Wiedlin might have done if she’d collaborated with Whammy-era B-52s, instead of Sparks. Righteous. 

Alles 3rd Gut will be released on Sorry State Records.

Web: bcamp label

Playlist for a Long Weekend!

Long weekends call for a long(er than usual, for us anyway) playlist! Here’s some of our current favorites that could be found on soundcloud:

Check Out “Mind Cancer”, from Virvon Varvon

ARTWORK BY @deuteromali ON INSTAGRAM

Virvon Varvon, Mind Cancer (Girlsville)


Assuming the internet isn’t lying to me (again, bastard), the words “virvon, varvon” form part of a ‘spell’ cast by young Finnish children dressed as witches during Easter, by which they offer decorated willow twigs in exchange for candy or other rewards. Fascinating, no? More pertinent to this review, Virvon Varvon are a five-piece wrecking crew of a band based – I think – in London (reading between the lines of a fine feature over at 50thirdand3rd.com). They’re debut EP, Mind Cancer, was released last month, and it’s been on repeat here at tgh hq ever since. 

Mind Cancer is chock full o’ turgid, roiling tracks best described by the umbrella term ‘rock and roll’. Like fellow travelers including NYC’s Vanity, Olympia’s VEXX (rip) and Perth’s Zerodent, Virvon Varvon decant a heady mix of punk (the hardcore, ℅ ’77, proto- and post- varietals), NWOBHM, guitar-oriented new wave (see, the chiming guitars in ‘Listen’), and 70s ‘hard rock’. At various points, I heard bits of Dead Boys, B52s, Black Flag, Judas Priest, Love Battery, and the Damned. While there’s plenty of roughness on display, some absolute melodic gems can be uncovered by sifting through the production’s layers of dust – but the real revelation here are the vocals of Hanne Highway, who has a knack for a tuneful roar. 

Highlight, “Radical”’s opening riff sounds like a revved up “Livin’ After Midnight”, guy/girl vocals rapidly going off in different directions – like trying to listen to two people simultaneously describe how that fist fight last night really started. Another personal fave, “What Did You Say?”, marries a Damned-worthy drum crunch underneath a B52s-y guitar melody, all crescendoing to an absolute rager of a chorus. There’s even a rousing shout-along about allergies. The whole thing is damn good and, flying by in a little under 20 minutes, doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Go get it. 

Mind Cancer is available now, courtesy of the good people over at Girlsville. Haven’t seen anything yet about a tour, but would be great to hear these tunes live.

Web: label

The hooks leave a mark on “EP2”, from Sydney’s Body Type


Sydney-based quartet Body Type was a ‘new to us’ band when we stumbled upon their fantastic EP2. Released in May, it’s quickly become a favorite here at tgh hq.

Self-described as “scuzz//rock” (or, alternately, “scuzzzzzzz”), the tracks on EP2 trace a majestic arc through driving, mid-90s indie rock to spikier, more 80s indebted post-punk. The blistering opener, ‘Stingray’, sets the tone nicely – the band’s taut, bright hooks counterposed against Sophie McComish’s vocal delivery, whose languid quality thinly veils a sneer as she warns that the titular, spineless fish is nonetheless able to “sting just fine”. Elsewhere, the slower pace of standout tracks like ‘Insomnia’ feel almost humid, but never cloying. The lead guitar melodies – in particular – are transfixing throughout and will rattle around in your brain for days. Sounding a bit more polished than last October’s EP1, there is more than enough of a Breeders-y off-kilter approach to the arrangements to keep it from feeling too safe.

EP2 is out now, courtesy of Partisan Records and Inertia Music. Head over to Partisan’s website, and you can purchase both EP1 and EP2 as one, long-playing vinyl release. Long live the “two ‘fer”!

Highlights include: “Stingray”; “Insomnia”; “UMA”.

Web: label label bcamp fbook twitt insta

Check out the video for ‘UMA’:

Check Out Tracks from Brandy, Too Free, JOHN, and Keel Her

Brandy, “Clown Pain” (Total Punk)


NYC trio Brandy features members of Pampers and Running (the latter one of our fave bands of the last few years in the ‘whacked-out’ punk space). Their recent “Clown Pain” 7” is an excellent mash up of the members’ other band’s respective sounds – the a-side, title track welding a wizened psych(out) on to sky-high, fist pumping riffs, while b-side “Rent Quest” underpins a buzzing drone riff with a ‘shake appeal’ rhythm. It’s kind of like a basement jam featuring The Stooges and AC/DC (Bon-era, duh) and it’ll make you want to do that Angus Young accordion dance thing. Great stuff.

The single is available now, courtesy of Total Punk. Brandy do have a Bandcamp page for your perusing delight, where you can also fine their fine debut long-player, on Monofonous Press. While you’re doing that, work your senses overtime by checking out this video of Brandy playing live video at Union Pool, Bkln.

Web: bcamp label

Too Free, “ATM” (Sister Polygon)


Too Free is a new band comprised of Awad Bilal, Carson Cox and Don Godwin. 

The lead single from their forthcoming debut, “ATM”, is an intoxicating, pose-worthy slice of early house and electric disco – the toms even reminiscent of the famed go-go of their DC hometown. The multi-step rhythm/elastic bass/synth combo is mesmeric, but it’s Bilal’s vocals that truly put on a show here. One part early house diva, another Anohni, Bilal glides through notes on diamond-encrusted wings, the inherent vamp and strut infused with raw emotion. “Engulf me”, indeed.

“ATM” is available now as a stand-alone download on Too Free’s bandcamp page (link below). The group’s debut long-player is due to be released later this year, on Sister Polygon.

Web: bcamp insta label

JOHN, “Future Thinker” (Pets Care Records)


John Healy and John Henry Newton are the two John’s behind a London (Crystal Palace, to be exact – go Eagles!)-based group named, erm, JOHN (aka “JOHN (TIMESTWO)”, in certain spaces). In a bit of online serendipity, we discovered the group via fbook shoutout from one of our current faves, We Wild Blood. 

Self-described as ‘four arms, four legs, two heads, wood, metal and plastic’, “Future Thinker” pushes a once familiar guitar/drum combo deeply into the red. Growling vocals and buzzy guitar roil and churn over a steady, almost glam rhythm. It’s a continuous sonic slap in the face over the duration of its 3:02 run time, with the addition of cacophonous sax squalls from Chloë Herrington towards the end a welcome one. Reminds a bit of Metz, Snakehole, or Sex Swing. Do as they say and “burn the proverbial bridge”.

“Future Thinker” is set to be the lead track off JOHN’s forthcoming debut long-player, Out Here on the Fringes, due in October courtesy of Pets Care Records. It is available for pre-order here.

Web: fbook bcamp scloud twitt label

Keel Her, “Complain Train” (O Genesis)


We here at tgh love a good pun, especially one that’s ultimately self-effacing/deprecating. In that spirit, we present Keel Her, the musical alter-ego of Rose Keeler-Schäffeler. Get it? We’ll give you a sec…ok, then. 

“Complain Train”, taken from forthcoming long-player, With Kindness, is a lovingly crafted dose of psych-tinged indie pop, in the vein of Broadcast, Jane Weaver, and Rose Dougal. A woozy, almost playground-like synth melody provides the backdrop for Keeler’s reflective lyrics, before ultimately falling off to a rougher-edged solo/outro.  It sits nicely with other previews from the record, the dead-eyed girl group charmer “Empathy”, and slow-burning “No Control” – each one putting Keeler-Schaffeler’s incredible knack for vocal melody construction on pedastalic display.

With Kindness is due today (June 7), courtesy O Genesis, a label run by Tim Burgess, Nik Colk Void and Jim Spencer (fan boy alert!). Do yourself the favor of perusing her Bandcamp page (link below), whereat all manner of demos, EPs, covers, &etc., are there to be enjoyed (her cover of Robert Wyatt’s “Heap of Sheeps” is a particular fave).

Web: bcamp scloud twitt site fbook label

Check Out Music from Homeless Cadaver, Ben Woods, DMBQ and Khotin

Homeless Cadaver, ‘Fat Skeleton’ (Iron Lung) 


7” single from Homeless Cadaver – a band I can find basically less than bupkuss about online. Whoever they may be, they’ve released a great single in the form of ‘Fat Skeleton’. The a-side/title track features quirky, choppy punk full of gross-out humor and flashes of discordant synth lines a la Devo and newer acolytes like Austmuteants. B-side, “Art. Eat It.”, is a sludgier affair, cartoonishly violent lyrics shuffling into a zombiefied chorus. Whizzing by in the space of about four and a half minutes, it leaves a mark, together with a pleasant numbness. Eat it.

Out now (the vinyl is part the second of a five part ‘Systemic Surgery’ series of singles), courtesy of the fine folks at Iron Lung.

Web: label

Ben Woods, “Romancy”

Ben Woods is a musician hailing from Christchurch, NZ – currently playing drums in tgh fave Salad Boys. He’s also a solo artist, and was kind enough to send over the video (directed by friend, Martin Sagadin) for his latest track, “Romancy”. Floating along a sinuous drift, the track calls to mind a bit of Radiohead or Mogwai in spaces. Woods’ hushed delivery of lines such as ‘holding on to you/i don’t know what’s true’ feel like drifting off on the couch after someone important’s just left, the cigarette burning down between fingers. It’s gorgeous, emotive psych, portending a fine full-length which, the press release tells us, is due later this year. Bonus points for leading me to scuzzy girl group crash of last summer’s “Lozenge”. 

Web: bcamp fbook 

DMBQ, “No Things” (God?/Drag City)


Taken from last fall’s Keeenly, “No Things” is a load-bearing slab of psych-rock from Japan’s DMBQ (shorthand for ‘Dynamite Masters Blues Quartet’) that’s tight enough to walk on, loose enough to swing. The vocals, rather than being straight forward, are as jagged as the feedback-addled guitars; buried so deep in the mix they sound like as if they originated from inside the kick drum. The end actually kinda sounds like a sonic boom – perfect. 

Endorsed/released by Ty Segall, courtesy of his God? imprint for Drag City.

Web: label bcamp twitt site 

Khotin, “Water Soaked in Forever” (Ghostly)


Khotin is the nom de musique of Vancouver, BC-based Dylan Khotin-Foote. His track, ‘Water Soaked In Forever” feels like it’s titular subject: a warm bath, the proverbial babbling brook heard through the pines, ending with what sounds like a recording of falling rain. The track is pastoral with a slow, intentionally deliberate pace, but while certainly soothing, the vaguely discordant melody on top (played on the highest piano keys? the parts of the strings over the guitar head?) keep things more invigorating than narcoleptic. There’s shades of new age, the tropical dance of groups like 808 State, ambient – all to great effect.

Taken from full-length, Beautiful You, self-released in 2018 and now being given a wider release courtesy of Ghostly International.

Web: label soundcloud bcamp twitt insta

New Music from Working Men’s Club, Dehd, Crumb and The Pretzels

Working Men’s Club, “Bad Blood” (Melodic)


“Todmorden-by-way-of-Europe” trio, Workingmens’ Club, released their debut 7” in February. ‘Bad Blood’ arrives with an almost “Maniac[al]” opening, adding scratchy guitars until developing into a full-blown early new wave/post-punk stomper. The talk-sung vocals, punctuated by energetic backing interjections reminds of Brix-period The Fall (and, somewhere, I kept hearing a bit of Thompson Twins?). There’s a bit more gloss on show here than your average post-punk but, fear not, there’s grit ‘neath the polished nails. “Be happy when the sun shines”, indeed.

‘Bad Blood’ is being repressed April 26, courtesy of Melodic Records The band is also touring soon, including as opener for the mighty Fat White Family – dates here. (Psst – the band’s guitarist, Julia Bardo, also has solo music out that is worth checking out, over at The Line of Best Fit).

Web: bcamp fbook twitt label

Dehd, “On My Side” (Fire Talk)

Chicago’s Dehd offer the latest taster from their forthcoming album, Water, with ‘On My Side’. A halcyon jangle underpins lyrics that feel like an open, possibly unsent, letter to someone missed – lines like “let me know/if you’re coming/back again” delivered with a mixture of wistfulness and detachment. The sedated feel is broken, here, with a wall-crumbling chorus from Emily Kempf, there with playful bass runs and elsewhere with a jittery, bent guitar solo. It’s lovely, reminding in spots of bands like Posse (RIP).

Based on this and previously shared, equally fab track, ‘Lucky’, Water – due May 10 from Fire Talk – is going to be one to covet. Dehd have a bunch of upcoming tour dates, which can be found here.

Web: site label bcamp insta

Crumb, “Nina” (self-released?)


Crumb are a four piece, formed in Boston (well, Medford) and now based in Brooklyn. “Nina” is the band’s latest, and presents us with a dreamy slice of psych-tinged indie pop that shows off the band’s gift for hazy, infectious melody. There’s a bit of a gallic tint (think Melodys Echo Chamber or Stereolab), paired with an r&b vibe that gives a throwback feel to the days when hip hop, trip hop and mellow jazz swam in the same waters. Lead singer/guitarist/writer Lila Ramani’s diaphanous vocals stitch it all together beautifully, at once above and dead center in the mix.

“Nina” is taken from Crumb’s debut album, Jinx, which is due June 14 and is now up for pre-order. Catch the band live on one of their upcoming dates.

Web: site bcamp fbook twitt insta

The Pretzels, “Kick it with K”


Hailing from Montréal, The Pretzels bring a twisted (Ed.: insert eye-roll emoji) take on proto/punk/garage in the form of ‘Kick it with K’. Flinging together bits of sassy, discomfiting punk, experimental noisiness and slightly-hinged rock (think Flipper, Dead Kennedys, early Butthole Surfers, Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster), the track is an apt aural accompaniment to the (presumably) titular anesthesis. Oh, and it suddenly left turns at the 1:40 mark into a long, doom metal-style outro for the remaining 2:30 or so… you’re welcome.

Brilliantly deranged. Must be amazing live – see for yourself if you’re near Quebec and let us know.

Web: fbook bcamp insta