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.
Makthaverskan haven’t released any new material since 2015’s “Witness” 7”, but that all changes now. The group has shared a new track, “In My Dreams”, and announced that a new album – the numerically appropriate, III – will be released in October.
“Dreams” finds the group continuing to mine the kind of swirling, cathartic melodies found on their previous work, but with a fuller sound. Reverbed guitar jangle, an increasingly active bassline and propulsive drumming engulf and elevate vocalist Maja Milner‘s plaintive upper register, now rounded out with more lower tones and a wordless purr at the 2:27 mark recalling Siouxsie. Headphones revel tubular synth notes, which add to the overall depth. The track positively shimmers, and we can’t wait for the album.
Rips is a four-piece based in Brooklyn. According to their bio, they’ve developed quite the following through “virtuous melodies and sheer ferocity amidst an endless flurry of shows” (crikey!).
Not situated in the Tri-State area, I had not run across the band until hearing their self-titled debut, and was hooked from the off. It’s fantastic, start to finish, showcasing a host of styles and incluences – the ‘artier’ end of the early CBGB days, post-punk, 70s power pop and rock, 60s via 80s jangle, 90s psych-slack – blended in such a way as to make them new again. “Break” is like REM covering Tom Petty; “Malibu Entropy” a woozy elegy to a relationship; “Save Room” as instantly familiar as the proverbial open road. The arrangements are sharp and taught, vocals recalling, to these ears, Love Battery’s underrated Ron Nine or Pete Doherty in their ability to seem both plaintive and beyond caring.
While much seems to have been made of the NYC/‘downtown’ feel of the band’s compositions, using as exhibit ‘a’ the involvement of Parquet Courts’ guitarist Austin Brown as producer, it rings too limiting. For me, the funneling of disparate eras and sounds into something so cohesive and, frankly, catchy gives Rips the feel of one of those ‘lost classic’ platters missed by many and later held up as a landmark. Let’s not wait.
Rips is out now, courtesy of Faux Discx (Wharf Cat handling distribution in the US). Follow along with the band Rips on fbook and their site, where you can find their current slate of upcoming gigs.
Zerodent is a four-piece band out of Perth, Australia. Formed way back in 2015, their excellent self-titled debut came out last year on German label, Alien Snatch! and, lo and forsooth, a new three-track EP, Soul Mender, is upon us…and it is good.
There’s a righteousness inherent in a lot of the best punk, and it’s on full show here. Mixing classic ℅ ’77 sounds of bands like The Saints and Buzzcocks (the opening riff of the title track reminds of “Harmony In My Head”) with garage, SoCal h/c gnarl and a bit of maximum r&b, the EP is an absolute rush from start to finish. Vocalist Lee Jenkins spits, snarls and wails, driving the service to completion with the rollicking “This Time” (personal fave, though it’s hard to choose). Pass the fucking plate. The only gripe is it’s too short.
Soul Member is out now, via Almost Ready. You can catch up with all things Zerodent on their fbook, and peruse their catalogue on bandcamp. Don’t see any tour dates up yet, but hopefully that will change soon.