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.
I’ve only just heard this yesterday (and have now listened to it several times), so this is a bit of stream of consiousness/knee-jerk reaction of a review. Apologies.
Without, further ado, then – from the excellent Manchester-based (Salford, to be specific) label Sways Records comes “This Gift”, the latest from the group Naked (On Drugs).
The song has quickly coursed through my veins, acting as a gateway drug to the rest of the band’s oeuvre, which I’m also enjoying immensely. If ever they remake ‘A Clockwork Orange’ this song should (and, likely, would) be on the soundtrack.
The song is a tense, terse, spastic, listing joyride on a tilt-a-whirl at a traveling carnival where regular maintenance is not a priority. Above it all, a louchely crooning Cheshire Cat. Your attempts to focus, as you spin along to elastic bass slaps, joyous hand claps, stuttering tom toms, clarinet, saxophone and what sounds like a slide whistle(!), prove futile, disorienting: a hazy glimpse of Ian McCulloch jamming with Throbbing Gristle; a groggy thrust of Peter Murphy fronting The Birthday Party. The scene shifts to a sidewalk, outside a Berlin sex club – now covered in your own(?) sick, you hear the muffled pulse of the bass drum and the slinky synth beckon. You awake, on the floor, to find someone’s placed your hand in a bucket of warm water. End scene.
Glorious. Check out the video, below (fair warning: camerawork may induce seizures and/or vertigo).