Beta Boys are a four-piece punk rock brigade whose current shop is set up in Olympia, WA. Since releasing a cassette demo in 2014, the band has been busy, releasing several singles and EPs on a variety of labels, each showcasing a fantastic blur of early 80s hardcore and death rock.
Their latest 7” single, released in February on Total Punk, just may be their most explosive yet. “Brick Walls” rides in on a Suicidal wave, dashes you on the rocks and continues to churn. There’s more than a hint of the Poison Idea-levels of the musical nihilism you’ve come to expect from the band, the track winding itself ever tighter but without indulging in a full throttle release – it’s more endless circle pit than full-on slam riot. Fear not, though, as catharsis soon come in the form of b-side, “Littered Streets”, with its straight ahead hardcore chug, washed out guitar and peel the paint vocals, yips and yowls that remind me of Blaine from The Accused.
It’s more fully-focused than anything else I’ve heard from Beta Boys, but doesn’t sacrifice their rawness. Anyway, sometimes you just need a punk record whose cover appears to feature Snoopy giving the double bird, right? You know you do. Go pick up a copy via the Beta Boys’ bandcamp.
I’ve had notes going on this for so long (all 4:48 of it…I guess I’m easily distracted), the band in the meantime released a new track, “Laugh/Cry” – billed as the “shortest” on their forthcoming LP, Late Night Acts – and it’s another ripper. Look for that one in August, courtesy of Richmond-based Feel It! Records.
We’re back! (hello?) After a fun, voodoo-filled family holiday in N’awlins (what?), we’ve been busy sifting through our inbox for treasure. One such shiny bauble comes from new (to us) band Crooked Teeth, formed three years or so ago in Glasgow and now hq’d in London. Following on last year’s excellent “Mirrors”, the trio’s forthcoming new single is called “Mountain Song”.
“Mountain Song” is a euphoric mix of dancefloor friendly indie pop and spiky electro. The press release accompanying the track describes it as a mix of Underworld, Doves and Chemical Brothers – I might add sprinkles of Architecture and Morality-era OMD in the plonkier synth notes and flashes of britpop pomp in the stormy chorus, with vocal tones reminiscent of Lee Mavers. (Maybe if M. Mavers had done ‘Setting Sun’ instead of Noel G.?Perchance, to dream).The overall effect is of half-light, the track’s widescreen glimmer hooded, ever so slightly, by a gauzy shade of effects.True to it’s name, the track’s resounding chorus would sound truly majestic echoing over clifftops or reverberating through valleys.
“Mountain Song” will be released, together with fellow a-side, “The American Dream”, on Lost in the Manor records in the UK.Crooked Teeth have lined up a slot at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, UK, so catch them there, if you can. You can also virtually stalk the band on fbook and the twitt.
Bikini Cops, Three (Drunken Sailor; Televised Suicide)
Bikini Cops are a quartet hailing from Perth. The band have been putting out music since 2015 or so and Third, their third (the title should’ve tipped you off), is the strongest yet. Building on the momentum of the band’s first two releases, these tracks feel more focused and fully-formed, but without losing any of the raw energy. Musically, the album teeters frantically between barely hinged blasts of MC5-esque rock and fantastically blunt, ‘old school’ (™) hardcore. The band is both tight and constantly on the verge of collapse, in the grand tradition of bands like First Four Years-era Black Flag. Singer Chris Balch’s cracking yelp carries the feeling of desperate antipathy of that band’s Keith Morris or Ian MacKaye in his Minor Threat years.
The one-two crotch kick of opener, “(Not) My World”, and “Stupid System” is, alone, worth the price of admission – but don’t go just yet, or you’ll miss out on personal fave “Total Control” and epic (over two minutes!) closer, “Lost in a Dimension”. Three makes its point quickly and succinctly, six tracks careening by in under 10 minutes (by my math), providing little time for assessment or breath, but eff me if it didn’t get more exciting with each repeat. Do circle pits go counterclockwise in AUS?
Spike Vincent – pictured above with a glorious coiffure exuding an Italia ’90 Rudi Voller or Hard Target-era Van Damme vibe – hails from Hurlstone Park, Sydney, Australia. After releasing a couple of 7” singles on local label Dinosaur City Records, Vincent recently exhaled a self-titled EP chock full of shimmering, emotive indie guitar pop.
Where previous singles were self-produced, the EP sees Vincent backed by a full band as part of a live, in studio recording. The intimate, unpolished “live to tape” process serves as the perfect setting for the bruised romance of the EP’s six tracks. Highlights abound: “Lie in the Dust” swoops and darts – but never quite alights – like a long-lost The Church single (Vincent’s tone, particularly in the lower register, calls to mind that band’s Steve Kilbey); “Get Over It” is a luxurious internal monologue debating the merits of a relationship’s ‘next step’; closer, “I Like You” a somewhat tortured love note with a sing-along chorus and lines like “if I like you/will my soul turn into gravel/…will my life start to unravel”.
Vincent’s self-titled EP is available now, via Dinosaur City and Burger Records in the US. You can grab a copy on his bandcamp while having your data pilfered on fbook (too soon?) and instagram.
Snob are a London quartet. A bit difficult to find much info on them, as they’ve chosen the deep underground route (no fbook, &etc.), but it seems Snob features members of other bands we heart, like Good Throb. To date, the band have put out two long-form 7” (i.e., not just a-side/b-side singles), as well as a track for an issue of the Another Subculture cassette magazine – all available via their bandcamp page – and recently released an excellent self-titled debut long-player.
Snob (the LP) is a fine dose of old school (UK ’82, anarcho) hardcore; that familiar wall of noise as potent a message-bearer as ever. Here, the ferocity of the playing is further enhanced by the vocal tone, which veers from sneering disaffection (“Lycra Daddy”), to (barely) restrained contempt (“Punisher”), to outright desperation (“Stuck”). The lyrical sardonicism – the etymology of which may trace as “curling one’s lips back at evil” (at least according to wikipedia, and I’m going with it, since it seems apt) – is no more potent than on album highlight, “Sex Contract”, where the lead singer’s almost earnest tone while delivering lines like “my guy’s so smart/he suggested I give/consent via an app/so I don’t change my mind/and make accusations…/he’s so sensitive/I’m so respectful” makes them cut deeper, as much tear- as rage-inducing. It’s this kind of album that draws me back to this kind of music – not because it makes me feel younger (I wish), but because the issues covered are ever-present, many in arguably more insidious forms, and this kind of inspired raging is still needed.
The Snob LP is available now, on the ever fab La Vida Es Un Mus – buy it here. Snob also appear to have a show coming up in London on March 31 – deets here.
Ten High are a new (to me) four piece based out of Fayetteville, AR. To date, the group has released three EPs, played shows will tgh faves like Aquarian Blood, and have name checked as inspiration several others, including the Blind Shake and Ex-Cult. Recently, drummer/vocalist Devan Theos was kind enough to pass along a link to their debut full-length, Self-Entitled (get it?), and I’m glad she did.
Self-Entitled finds Ten High tearing through an eleven-song set chock full o’ straight up r’nr, hints of psychobilly, 60s beat, hardcore, garage, psych – basically anything that sounds great played loud – all chewed up and spit out on a platter. Primary vocalist Cat Owens’ shredded pipes recall Reverend Beat Man’s gruff screed, pairing like a fine ripple with the jagged-edged guitar and short/sharp drum and bass combination of Theos and Aaron Smith (as a former – terrible – bassist, I love the thick, rubbery bass sound). Theos takes the mic sounding like a young Kate Pierson on the stomping “Skin Crawlers”, which comes off like a psychobilly take on Walk Among Us-era Misfits.
As with the best of so-called ‘noise’ rock, these tracks come based on infectious melodies residing dead center in the maelstrom. “Royal Blood” employs a bit of blues boogie, while “Fakers” had my brain checking to Three Dog Night, for fuck’s sake. Brilliant, even though I blame them for having “Mama Told Me Not to Come” for a full day…bygones.
Self-Entitled is available digitally and on cassette on April 5, courtesy of Rare Plant Records. Ten High will be on Greenway Records’ upcoming showcase at SXSW, for all you lucky mallards heading to Austin. There’s also a few dates before that, as well as a west coast US tour planned for the summer – check out the Ten High fbook for the dates.
Highlights include: “User’s Choice”; “Skin Crawlers”; “Fakers”; “The Trouble”.
Girl Ray are Poppy Hankin, Iris McConnell and Sophie Moss. We’ve previously genuflected in their general direction before, and here they go making us bow and scrape again with a new single, “The Way We Came Back”, to compliment last summer’s full-length debut, Earl Grey.
An early composition described by the band as, er, “[a] plump cow that needed to be milked”, “The Way We Came Back” bears the same well-worn elegance that has become a signature of the band’s short catalogue. Quirky rhythmic changes jostle the more straight forward chord progressions. Hankin’s wistful vocals, delivered with a resonance that makes her sound a less-Teutonic Nico (the timbre and accenting always has me thinking they’re Welsh), float over butterscotch smooth harmonies. Lovely.
Watch the video for “The Way We Came Back”, below, and catch Girl Ray on tour in the US for the first time through the end of March, ahead of their first UK headlining tour beginning in April – all dates here. The single arrives April 20 as a limited-edition 7”, available for pre-order from Moshi Moshi or the band.
Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Rot (What’s Your Rupture?; R.I.P. Society; Agitated Records)
Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys are a four-piece hailing from Sydney, featuring members of bands including Royal Headache and Red Red Krovvy. Following on 2013’s great debut, Ready for Boredom, the group released Rot this past November, and it’s amazing.
Rot finds the band barreling through an 11-song, 30 minutes and change set of fuzzed-out power pop that recalls folks like Wreckless Eric or a punkier Replacements. The combination of the raw, strained emotion in singer Joe Sukit’s voice over the grin-inducing melodies crafted by guitarist Ben Warnock is a potent one, and the band pulls off wry piss takes like “Expanding Horizons” and “Company”, and wistful reflections like opener “Away” and album highlight, “Device”, with equal aplomb. As closer, “Turn of the Page” ascends to an extended call and response between saxophone and a crunchingly beautiful solo worthy of ‘Starry Eyes’, the album leaves you with a hopeful sense that, despite leaving some scars, its titular degeneration is clearing.
Rot is available now, courtesy of a trio of labels: What’s Your Rupture? (US/Canada), R.I.P. Society (Australia, New Zealand) and Agitated (UK/EU) – pick your fave currency and buy a copy. The group also have a few tour dates coming up down under (sorry) – you can find them on the band’s fbook page.
Patsy are a New Orleans-based quartet. After a series of excellent singles over the past couple of years, the band recently released their debut ‘mini’-LP, LA Women.
Where prior singles tended to stay firmly in the hardcore lane, LA Women finds Patsy blending an inspired mix of surf, garage, 80s hardcore, skewed 80s new wave, and garage. Their straight ahead hardcore jams – including a re-recorded version of “Nazis are so Plain” from their 2015 demo – bear a slippery quality that reminds of DKs, particularly in the woozy guitar work (see, in particular, album highlight “Society Ape”, which sounds melodically like a DKs/Damned mashup). Elsewhere, tracks like the excellent “Heathen” and opener “Count it Down” bristle with a-go-go worthy garage energy.
LA Women is out now, courtesy of the ever-excellent La Vida Es Un Mus (seriously, check the roster). Patsy have a few tour dates forthcoming, which can be found below and on their bandcamp. Here’s hoping for more soon (including a date closer to thegrindinghalt HQ – *cough*).
10/12 Montreal @ L’Escogriffe
10/13 Toronto @ Sneaky Dee’s
10/15 Detroit @ Help!
10/16 Chicago @ TCC Gallery
10/17 St Louis @ B Line
10/18 Memphis @ Murphy’s
Rat Columns is the project of NYC-by way of Western Australia’s David West, whose previous work with bands such as Total Control, Rank/Xerox and Lace Curtain, as well as his solo material (most recently, last year’s great Peace or Love), explored different musical territory, from noirish post-punk, new wave imbued rhythmic explorations and dazed and confused psych.
Candle Power, his latest release with Rat Columns, finds West stitching together these various elements into a seamless and truly wondrous indie pop gem. “Blinded by the Shadow” expands on the Hot Chip (and their 80s antecedents) stomp of Lace Curtain, burnished with the addition of backing vocals from bassist Amber Gempton (featured throughout) and the inspired use of violin to add texture. “Northern Soul” weds the jittery, gothic post-punk of West’s work with Total Control and Rank/Xerox (I also kept hearing Lords of the New Church) with hazy psych. The album is shot through with moments of sublime, pop bliss. Opening one-two, “Someone Else’s Dream” and “She Loves the Rain”, jangled perfection in the spirit of classic Flying Nun on through to The Byrds. Closer, “Dream Tonight” a dancefloor ready mashup of New Order and Prefab Sprout (“Time’s No Vessel” also reminds of a less blissed-out Sprout with a shot of Orange Juice).
A dreamy, sepia-tinted melancholy hangs over the album, showcasing West’s ability to coalesce wide-eyed melodies with urbane, sometimes caustic lyrical takes on love and relationships, which are at variously “like driving a motorbike straight into a wall” (“Is This Really What You’re Like?”), an ephemeral, ‘did that really happen?’ experience (“Someone Else’s Dream”), and portentous “dark cloud that rains down from above” (“Time’s No Vessel”). It’s brilliant.