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.
Ok, so there’ve been a few punk/hardcore/whatever releases over the past few months that I’ve been trying to get around to and haven’t – so now I am. I intended to write up something individual and special to say about each of these but, fuck it, I’m gonna just put ‘em all into one, shortcut “combo” review. Since I said “fuck it”, that makes it kinda punk, no? No? Oh well, here goes…
The Lowest Form, Personal Space (La Vida Es Un Mus; Iron Lung)
Personal Space is the latest from UK hardcore punk band, The Lowest Form, and it slays. It’s part old school hc (I keep hearing alot of Wattie in the vocals, and Black Flag in the crumbling guitar sound (provided by Michael Kasparis, also part of Anxiety’s brilliant debut)) mixed with just good ol’ noise, all to great effect. Highlights are many, and include the repeated face punch of opener, “Interplanetary Bad Boy”, which slowly drowns in its own, rich stew of hiss and feedback, and the utter chaos of “Evol”. This record is cathartic in the ways of many a great, viscerally angry records. In years such as this one (have there really been any?), sometimes it’s more than worth it to swallow the bile in your throat, let it burn, then scream it out.
Fitting for a band that sound like they spend a lot of time ‘off the grid’, the band don’t seem to have much internet presence. Be sure to go and grab a copy of Personal Space (digital or “Bad Boy” vinyl) via the band,La Vida Es Un Mus or Iron Lung (in the US).
Highlights include: “Interplanetary Bad Boy”, “Gak Attack”, “Personal Space”.
Exotica, Musique Exotique #01 Demo (La Vida Es Un Mus)
Exotica wield bludgeoning, 80s (to these, admittedly, old and tinnitus-riddled ears) reanimating hardcore (I hear some of the old NYHC bands like (pre-crossover) Agnostic Front or Kraut, as well as the churning guitars of Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing-era Discharge on tracks like “Depresion”. Lead singer Lauren Gerig’s bilingual sing/scream/shriek is a revelation. The members of Exotica are based in New York, but hail from Mexico, Argentina – play this loud enough to be heard through your own wall.
Like The Lowest Form, no real interwebs presence to allow fawning – grab a copy of Musique Exotique #01 (digital or cassette) from the band or La Vida Es Un Mus. They also have a show coming up 12/29 in Guadalajara, MX – deets.
From earlier this year, the latest release from London quartet, Good Throb – and, regrettably, the last for a while, as members are now apparently geographically displaced. Good Throb (the record) adds layers of noise and feedback to the rhythmic, punk-funk hc of 2014’s also great (and succinctly titled) Fuck Off, with tracks like highlight “SCUM” and “The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock” recalling Crass, early Butthole Surfers and Flipper. Tasty.
“I’ve got a queer theory…” so beginneth “My Dickies” is the new one from western MA, USofA band, Urochromes. This 1 minute and change track bounces around like a kid hopped up on pixie sticks in a rubber room. Light speed hardcore. Cracked garage fuzz. Avant-noise skreech. Squirrel! Do yourself the favor of being tugged along in its wake. Here endeth the review.
Taken from forthcoming Night Bully EP, due January 27 from Wharf Cat Records (pre-order a copy and/or digital download here) – one more reason to be anxious for this year to end(eth).
The Men are back with a new album “Devil Music”, due November 11 and self-released by the band. The first taste comes in the form of “Lion’s Den”, a storming new track that sounds very much like to a return to the messier, gnarlier scuzz rock/punk of their debut and away from the ‘classic rock’ tuneage of their last couple. To these ears, it’s more than welcome.
“Lion’s Den” opens with a whirling eddy of guitars, bass, drums and skronking sax riff that wouldn’t be out of place on an album by The Stooges, The MC5 or Electric Eels. Vocalist Nick Chiericozzi screams himself hoarse lamenting how he ended up in the titular abode.
“Devil Music” is available for digital pre-order here – let your fingers do the buying. According a quote from their Bandcamp page, recording the album was a way to “give [the band] something enjoyable to listen to, …not just another record to get reviewed [Ed. – oops], …to participate in some sort of endless, winless game”. We’re liking it so far – hopefully, they are, too.
Looking forward to hearing the rest of the record and to seeing The Men live again soon. In the meantime, get the latest on their site, and check out a great write-up and interview with Chiericozzi by the good folks over at Noisey.
Trust Punks, “Mother’s Veil”, “Leaving Room for the Lord”
Two new(ish) tracks from Auckland, New Zealand’s Trust Punks, each showcasing a different side of the band’s sound.
“Mother’s Veil”, released in November, shows a softer, wistful touch. Narcotic, dreamy jangle psych-pop, reminiscent of the band’s Flying Nun countrymen, up through the quieter moments of Brian Jonestown Massacre and maybe even first album Shins. Strummed guitars, an airy bassline and what sounds like tape hiss weave a lucid dream, sadly interrupted by the feedback alarm clock ending. Heavenly.
Newer track, “Leaving Room for the Lord”, exudes a brasher, more dissonant and, er, “punker” sound. Shades of early Killing Joke and PiL, plus some Jesus Lizard noise finds the band in a similar lane to Ireland’s Girl Band on this one. Jagged, clamoring guitars, roiling drums and shouty vocals stagger and crash into each other drunkenly, setting a combative tone. Satisfyingly brutish.
According to a post on the band’s fbook page, “Leaving Room” will feature on the band’s upcoming album, entitled “Double Blind”. No further details at this time but, in the meantime, explore their earlier releases, including great 2014 release “Discipline”, on bandcamp. Sadly, we missed that one first time ‘round, but are having fun playing catch up.
Running, Wake Up Applauding (Castle Face Records, 1/15/2016)
Blistering, relentless new long player from Chicago’s Running.
Building on 2013’s excellent Vaguely Ethnic and subsequent singles, Running return with another set of vertigo-inducing punk/psych/noise/drone/whateverit’sgoodsojustlisten. Wake Up is a loud record that begs to be played loud: layers upon layers of reverb and drone textures mix with the jagged shards of feedback; largely indecipherable, muzzled vocals at the center of the sonic maelstrom. This is the soundtrack to a paranoid schizophrenic’s psychotic break, careening blindly through dark alleys in search of respite from the voices, the shadowy figures emerging from formless shadows. Tension, tension, tension.
The lightning ride manipulation of guitar feedback is even more up front than on past releases, like 2014’s Totally Fired. The band’s sound still includes a fair bit of the scorched earth hardcore of early Black Flag and of more experimental bands like Flipper, as well as early doom metal (lots of circle pit bridges). There’s also room for aggressive, PiL post-punk, spazzy noise a la bands like Scratch Acid, and even a bit of a ROIR tape Bad Brains vibe (particularly on “Fucktown Reality”).
The album art appears to be a cross-section of skin, with an arrow indicating “running” just beneath the surface of the derma. Appropriate, somehow, for a record that burrows deep.
Wake Up Applauding is out now, on Castle Face Records. Since it’s basically impossible to find much of anything about this band – they have a Soundcloud page, in addition to the bio page on the Castle Face website – here’s hoping for some advance notice when next they emerge from the lab and tour.
Highlights include: “We Never Close”, “Fucktown Reality”, “Wake Up Applauding”, “Art Seen”, “No Wave Jose”.
It’s hot; really, effing hot. Sweat runs in rivulets down your back, sides, forehead; the back of your thighs. The dank, still air of late summer envelopes you; a shroud, creating the sweat-stained outline of your human form in the soft pleather chair.
Outside, the urban thrum of car horns, jack hammers, sirens. Closer in, a soft whisper comes from a box fan sat in the window on the opposite side of the room, it’s scant breeze causing barely a ripple in the heavy air. Yet, this sound holds promise: the promise of moving air, however stale, however ripe with heat and the tang of perspiration and garbage, however leaden with asphalt and exhaust.
You inch closer. Visions of trade winds; relief. The fan’s soft purr becomes a drone, then a whirr; a building crescendo. The once faint breeze now feels like a wind tunnel, buffeting your face as you lean in, closer…the sound now sending vibrations through your skull. You smile, eyes closed, at the first patter of sweat beads on spinning blades. The cacophonous wind – you let it wash over you, let it draw you ever closer, like a cartoon character floating on waves of aroma from a freshly cooked chicken.
The song is “Paul”. The band is thegrindinghalt.com fave and pride of Ireland (ok, we think they should be proud), Girl Band. Taken from forthcoming, debut full length “Holding Hands With Jamie”, out September 25 on Rough Trade (available for pre-order here in the US and on Rough Trade’s UK webshop). The video is above, and is fantastic. If you haven’t (and why not?), check out Girl Band on Facebook or their website.
Taiwan Housing Project, Maintenance of An Application (M’Ladys Records)
In a post-Memorial Day world, where ears often tune to vacuous pop paeans to partying, dancing, being hot for some girl, guy, Barbie robot, zombie sex god …there’s this sweet bit of dissonant, raucous, noisy relief from Philly’s Taiwan Housing Project. A feel good hit for a different summer.
This is a gloriously disorienting, careening, mess of a song. Peals of feedback screech, dive, swoop and swirl like so many banshees around the shouted vocals of Kilynn Lunsford, held together (just) by a steady, ominous rhythm – the aural equivalent of the psycho dude with the flesh mask and the power tool whose lurching, relentless pursuit is undeterred by gunshot, stabbing and/or burning. Sweet dreams!
“Maintenance” is taken from a new EP, which gets a physical release July 28, courtesy the awesome (or, should i say, esteemed) M’lady’s Records out of Portland, OR – you can preorder a digital copy now on the label’s Bandcamp page (while you’re there, you can listen to another great, Sonic Youth-y track, “White Frosted”).
Running, the Chicago band whose excellent Vaguely Ethnic was previously reviewed here on thegrindinghalt.com, return with a new 3-track single (is that an EP?) – “Frizzled” – due July 22 on the Drag City (Ty Segall) label imprint, God? Records.
“Totally Fired” is track 3 – stream it above and hear samples of this and the lead track at http://www.dragcity.com/products/frizzled. An intrusive squall of feedback stumbles into a roiling hornets’ nest of guitars, vocals, drums and bass clamoring to be heard from beneath a gauzy cocoon of distortion. The song lurches fore and aft until being rather rudely interrupted around the 2:40 by a sound resembling either a fax machine or modem dial (perhaps I’m dating myself with these references?). The remainder of the track is a push/pull battle between this noise and the main tune – who wins is in the ear of the beholder.
The early Nirvana influences from Vaguely are still present, mixed with some Ginn-like guitar work and sounds that wouldn’t have been out of place on records by more outré 80s hardcore bands like Flipper or Government Issue. A welcome, noisy return.