Artist: Soda Bomb
Soda Bomb // The Future Is Gonna Suck
Been waiting for this one for a minute. Exactly a year ago Long Island pop punk band Soda Bomb released their Hooligan EP. It wasn’t their first release but it was the release that really caught my attention. With its nods to similar NY bands who have come before them like Brand New, The Movielife, and Patent Pending, it struck a very fondly nostalgic chord for me. Plus it was just a lot of fun. Now the band is back with a new album that they’ve been working on for a good while called The Future Is Gonna Suck. Heh.
The album is seven tracks (five new, two re-recorded) and it sports a tinnier, more lo-fi sound than their last few EPs. Even though the production is a bit thinner, the band makes up for it with energy and humor. With their laid-back and somewhat self-deprecating personality, the band would have you think that they put the “slacker” in their slacker punk, but these guys are actually really hard working. They’ve got the passion and when they aren’t busy writing, recording, or playing shows, they are promoting their stuff to anyone who will listen. Thankfully for them they don’t have to push too hard to get it into my ears. I’m already there.
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Deafheaven // “Sunbather”
These days Deafheaven seem to be everywhere leading up to the release of their sophomore album Sunbather. The experimental black metal duo are no longer one of the scene’s best kept secrets and it seems that everyone is keen to stick their finger in the pie. And for good reason, with their shoegazing amalgamation they are one of the most exciting black metal bands around. The best part is that they seem to be tapping into something bigger with their audience. For old fans the anticipation is at an all-time high, and beyond that people who typically don’t mess around with black metal are finding something compelling in the music.
It’s pretty obvious that the band is making strides towards a wider accessibility, but fortunately for them it doesn’t come at the cost of edge or credibility. The album’s first single “Dreamhouse” pulled listeners in with its beautiful and melodic shoegazing guitar work. Now the band has taken a slight step back into their bleak world of noise to release the album’s title track “Sunbather”. Not pulling any punches, the track seeks to club those curious new listeners over the head and drag them back its cave. It’s a ten-minute onslaught of blast beats, a brick wall of guitar distortion, and animalistic screams that builds towards an almost transcendent climax. After hearing these two excellent tracks I’m pretty much frothing at the mouth for this album. Seriously, just give it to me now.
Sunbather is out on June 11 through Deathwish Inc.
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Artist: death engine
Death Engine // Amen EP
French hardcore band Death Engine bill themselves as “violent and oscure noise” while their label Throatruiner Records draws comparisons between them and bands like Playing Enemy, Amenra, and even Swans. That’s a pretty tall order, and it’s one that nudged me to eagerly press play. What I found didn’t exactly meet my expectations, but that’s not a bad thing because Death Engine seared my ears off with their blistering metallic hardcore. Let’s just say that I wasn’t disappointed with what I found.
Less Swans transcendant noise worship and more Converge’s controlled hardcore chaos, Death Engine’s four-track EP is a tour-de-force containing some of the more brutal hardcore I’ve heard this year. The band sort of splits the EP between blistering hardcore punk speed and a more mid-tempo noise demolition. But no matter what speed they’re playing at the band finds a way to make the music sound downright apocalyptic. With massive guitar riffs, crashing drum hits, and primal vocal screams, Death Engine seek to bring the world down around them with this EP and they damn near succeed at doing it. This music crushes everything under its heavy foot and leaves nothing behind other than a cloud of dust and a ringing in your ears.
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Title: When The Nightmare Ends
Artist: Soft As Snow But Warm Inside
S/A/S/B/W/I // “When the Nightmare Ends”
Big thanks to my friend George of AWD Castles/PORTALS for showing me this one. His late night Soundcloud traverses led him to this and from there it found its way to me.
S/A/S/B/W/I or Soft As Snow But Warm Inside (taken from the My Bloody Valentine song of the same name) is a Japanese synth pop duo who has absolutely melted my heart with their track “When the Nightmare Ends”. As part of the Japanese net label Ano(t)racks’ massive 16-track compilation Upwards and Onwards, “When the Nightmare Ends” stood out to both George and myself as being one of the best tracks on the compilation.
“When the Nightmare Ends” is a faily simple little synth-pop number but it is gentle and endearing with a feeling that is very much appropriate when considering the duo’s name. The synths sound like falling snow and the vocal melody is sugary but warm in an almost timid sort of way. The band even finds a way to tuck a small joke/jab at dubstep into not only the lyrics but also the instrumentation itself. With only two tracks (and two remixes) to their name after a 9-month online presence, I can only hope that the duo is gearing up for a proper release. I’ll be patiently waiting either way.
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Pharmakon // Abandon
Forgive me, Pharmakon, for I have misjudged you. Although in my defense that introductory interview was annoyingly pretentious. I don’t need someone to tell me how punk rock they are (poopy diapers notwithstanding). Let the music do the talking. While we are talking about the music, I’m not sure why “Crawling On Bruised Knees” was chosen as the single. I believe it’s the album’s weakest track. Whatever. We can let bygones be bygones. So let’s just chock it up to a bad first impression.
So Abandon. This albums absolutely slays and I’m not afraid to say I was wrong. So very wrong. I gave this girl such a hard time when as it turns out all she wanted to do was scream (oh, the screaming) and wail on her electronics. Granted there is nothing really new presented here, although maybe in how it’s dressed up. I mean who doesn’t loved Wolf Eyes, Throbbing Gristle, and Swans? Right? I guess I just never expected such nightmarish music to come from a young, blonde white girl. But it’s like they say in Ratatouille: “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”
Drawing on elements of power electronics, noise, industrial, drone, and even metal, Pharmakon has concocted a particularly lethal potion. The music is brutal, raw, and punishing even on the most desensitized ears. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a joy to listen to. There is something thrilling about dragging yourself right into the eye of the storm and seeing yourself come out the other side unscathed (well, mostly unscathed). There are times that the music even has a darkly cinematic vibe (upon my first listen through yesterday I think I compared it to the soundtrack to a snuff film). I mean there are sections when the music sounds like a distorted, even more nightmarish version of the score of The Shining. So all that’s to say that I really enjoyed this album when I really expected not to. That’s two times that that’s happened this week. I’m looking at you, Daft Punk.
Oh, a kudos to Sacred Bones for sticking their neck out on this one.
Title: "sailor swim"
Artist: brain f≠
Brain F≠ // “Sailor Swim”
Brain F≠ (pronounced “Brain Flannel”, yeah I don’t get it either) is a rambunctious garage punk band from Charlotte, NC. On July 15th the band will release their followup to 2011’s Sleep Rough. The new album is called Empty Set and will again be released by Grave Mistake and the always stellar Sorry State Records.
Until that time, you’ll have to enjoy the first single to drop from that album called “Sailor Swim”. The track has a friendly face with it’s snappy tempo and melodic vocals, but underneath the track is a pretty snarly punk number with biting lyrics. Elise Anderson’s repeating chorus “I don’t give a fuck if you clear my name.” is almost a spiritual sister to Joan Jett’s seminal punk rock anthem “I don’t give a damn about my bad reputation.” It’s that kind of classic punk or riot grrrl attitude that makes Brain F≠ so much fun to listen to. Just don’t forget to check out Empty Set in a few months. Or just check back here. I’m sure I’ll be yapping about it one way or another.
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Wreck and Reference // “Abhorrence”
To be a metal band yet forego the use of guitars (or any stringed instrument for that matter) sounds crazy. And that is exactly what California experimental metal duo Wreck and Reference is: crazy. There is no shortage of creativity flowing out of the metal scene these days, but Wreck and Reference push experimentation to its extremes. These two guys are not afraid to think outside the box and it makes them one of the most exciting bands on the scene today.
I’ve been championing these guys since they sent me their debut Black Cassette over two years ago. That album showed a lot of promise but it was nothing compared to their first real authoritative statement,
YOUTH (No Youth) released last year. For such a young band still carving out their niche in the metal universe, YOUTH was a bold statement that caused shockwaves in the scene (well, depending on where your ears were tuned). Really that album was and still is mindblowing. Now the guys are back with a new 7” titled CONTENT (yeah, you got it. No Content) out soon on Flenser Records, a label which is quickly becoming a go-to spot for rich and unique metal.
Right out of the gate the guys scored a video premiere on NPR and several weeks later, a track premiere on Stereogum. Those are no small potatoes for a band that was virtually unknown just a couple of years ago. In true form these new tracks follow suit with more genre-bending and classification-resisting metal. Any harder-edged genre is fair game and the guys mix it in such an organic way. Black metal, doom, industrial, noise, drone. It’s all thrown into the pot and the result is bleak as it absolutely delicious. I don’t think I’ll ever stop geeking out over just how good these guys are. I can’t really help myself. They just make it so damn easy.
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Title: How It Is//I’ll have the milk steak, boiled over hard, and your finest jelly beans, raw
Artist: Open Letters
Open Letters // 1-6
I’ve struck pop punk gold. If you turn your nose up at the scent of the genre, well then you’re gonna have to just get over yourself. I know that a lot of it can be painfully obnoxious, but if done correctly it can be a heck of a lot of fun. Take Vancouver trio Open Letters for example.
Having a lot more in common with punk than pop, these three young kids absolutely shred their way through this 5-song EP. There is a lot to love about this EP, and it all starts with how aggressive it is. Yes, it’s really catchy music with high-pitched (verging on nasally) melodic vocals, but the music is furious and the lyrics are packed with anthems of youthful angst. Lines like “Eat shit and die!” and “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, fuck everything!” are delivered with a laugh and a wry smile. Also in true form the song titles are ridiculous and ridiculously long. It just goes to show you how much fun this band is having and how much fun they want you to have.
Their EP 1-6 is available as pay-what-you-want on their Bandcamp, but know that any and all money made from the digital sales goes straight to the WISH Drop-In Center Society (a non-profit that helps women involved in the sex slave trade). That’s just another reason to be in love with this band.
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Torche // “Keep Up”
Here’s a brand new track from Southern sludge metal crew Torche. After last year’s most excellent Harmonicraft I’ve been eagerly anticipating hearing some new material from the energetic band. “Keep Up” is the A-side from their upcoming 7” with Volcom Entertainment and it does not disappoint.
The track is pretty laid-back compared to their previous material. They also tone back any residual sugar high left over from Harmonicraft’s candy-coated stoner pop. For the first 3/4’s of the track it’s pretty much just a straightforward yet reliable headbanger with a modest tempo. Then in true form the band breaks things down in its final moments for some pounding sludge and electrifying solo guitar work. It’s another catchy track from a metal band who isn’t afraid to be just that.
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Title: Ego Trip
Artist: Dylan Ewen
Dylan Ewen // Alt 2013
Boston noisemaker Dylan Ewen is back with a four-song EP of carbonated fuzz pop. Last fall Dylan put out his album Fort Worthless, a cheeky little album full of snotty youthful angst that I liked a whole lot.
Following in the same vein as that album, this new EP Alt 2013 touches on a lot of the same subjects: girls, failed relationships, self-deprecation and occultic imagery as reappropriated by a third-grader. He even follows up “You’re a Bitch” from Fort Worthless with “You’re a Bitch Pt 2 (Still a Bitch).” So that shows you a bit where Dylan is coming from. As with Fort Worthless, everything here has to be taken with a grain of salt. There’s a thread of humor and self-awareness that runs through all of Dylan’s music that makes any of the perceived immaturity go down easy. Basically it’s just a fun, catchy collection of songs that don’t take themselves too seriously. So you shouldn’t either.
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R∆CHEL // Sorry EP
I actually featured a track from this EP on PORTALS last week, but I’ve been listening to the EP a lot and decided that I might as well share it here too. Also I first want to say that, yes, I know that this band has a triangle in their name in place of an ‘A.’ But I’m going to ask that you forgive them this. I’m sure that they know that this is no longer 2011.
The guys in Nashville band R∆CHEL unabashedly embrace the lo-fi emo tag that many other band try to shrug off. In fact when they pitched the EP to me they drew comparisons between themselves and acts like Teen Suicide and even Bright Eyes. They said it, not me. So I don’t mind saying that, yeah, if you dig that sort of Sam Ray-core stuff you will probably dig what these guys are doing. The tracks feel very spontaneous and rough. Listening to them I’d wager that they were recorded straight to tape. That’s the sort of handmade DIY approach they are taking and they make it work.
The Sorry EP is a sort of meant to whet appetites before the band releases their debut album It’s 4 O’clock In the Morning and I’m Never Talking To a Girl Again later this year. You can grab the handmade tapes from the band for just $3. Not a bad deal.
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Title: GOD OV WOLVES
Artist: Old Witch
Old Witch // Come Mourning Come
All it takes is one look at the band name and cover artwork and you pretty much know right off the bat what sort of music you’ll be getting. But in case you need a little help, Old Witch play music that is bleak, cold, and oppressively dark. More specifically they play an organic combination of doom, black metal, and ambient drone. The drone elements are few and far between, so if you are looking for something to space out to you might want to look elsewhere.
The darkness of this six-track album is calculated and heartless, but it’s also an album that is extremely powerful and, more often than not, gorgeously rendered. The doom metal riffs move at a glacial pace, flattening anything in their path while the black metal-leaning vocals provide a raspy, tortured narration over top them. And all the while the evil spills out over everything like a sticky black oil. And yet for all of their darkness and macabre, Old Witch know that the ears can only swallow so much. It’s in these moments that they pull the mask back and reveal the beauty of the artist at work. The instrumental interludes are gorgeously crafted with a heavy emphasis on thick atmosphere. It’s a combination that completely works and it makes for an exhilarating release that turns out to be one of the better doom metal efforts I’ve heard this year.
Head to their Bandcamp page and grab this album for free while it lasts.
(via Forever Cursed)
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Bad Noids // Everything from Soup to Dessert
Ask most people who are at least somewhat familiar with record label Kartoga Works which bands from their roster they dote on and they’ll probably say “well, I really like Merchandise.” And while it’s true that the Florida post-punkers have pulled a spotlight down onto the small label, there is a lot more to discover and love about the label than just one (buzz) band. Plus the label makes it easy for people to become versed in their output because they offer free downloads of the majority of their releases.
Take their most recent release Everything from Soup to Dessert from Cleveland band Bad Noids. Taking the hardcore punk formula and injecting it with radioactive snot and a twisted sense of humor, the guys have spit out an album of 12 blistering, blink-and-miss-‘em punk micro-explosions. Their music is fast and frantic with tons of youthful aggression, but most importantly it’s an extremely fun album. If you listen to more than a little punk then you’ll notice that Bad Noids aren’t taking themselves very seriously and they sound like they are having a blast doing whatever it is that they are doing. After a short pause following the last track the vocalist rants and screams “I have a headache!” over and over again through heavy breathing, and then finally uttering “Bad Noids…” These guys show their colors throughout the album’s short runtime, and if you stick around for its duration, those sentiments are cemented amidst maniacal laughter.
Everything from Soup to Dessert is unfortunately already sold out, but please do yourself a favor and download the tracks.
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Artist: Trace Mountains
Trace Mountains // “Salty/Sweet”
Oh, Dave. Ohhhh, Dave. Dave Benton. Dave Benton who also plays in LVL UP and Spook Houses. That Dave. He’s killing me.
In addition to the aforementioned bands, Dave also runs passionate New York indie label Double Double Whammy. So he’s a busy guy. Somewhere along the lines though he found time to steal away and record some solo material under the name Trace Mountains. Though only two of the tracks have surfaced so far, they are excellent. Sticking to the acoustic guitar and hushed vocals, the songs can be summed up in one word: bittersweet. In other words it’s the kind of music that makes you happy and sad at the same time, but you can’t exactly put into words why. So I’m not going to try.
PS - Is that someone playing the saw at the end of “Salty/Sweet”? Please tell me that’s someone playing the saw.
PPS - Dave also said that these tracks are going to be seeing some form of release on Double Double Whammy in the future. So there’s that to look forward to.
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Title: Better Suggestion
Pig Welt // Root Porno
Sometimes I don’t think people realize just how much music passes through music bloggers’ hands. I get it from my email inbox (good Lord, you don’t even wanna know), on Tumblr, on Twitter, even on Facebook. That being said, I’m not complaining. I put myself in this position and it’s one that I’m happy to be in. It just gets a tad overwhelming every once in a while. All that serves to make it that much harder for artists to stand out in a crowd unless they are doing something legitimately insane. So on the heels of a cheeky Facebook message, I decided to revisit and share Pig Welt’s Root Porno. Let’s just say he made himself stand out.
The solo project of Rochester, NY native Zachary Rooney, Pig Welt is a strange little monster. Not exactly punk, not exactly garage rock, but existing uncomfortably somewhere between the two, his music mopes around languidly at a very intentional pace. It almost sounds as if he is playing his stuff from the bottom of a swimming pool. But not just any swimming pool. More like one that hasn’t been cleaned in a while and it has like dirty leaves and twigs floating on the surface and maybe a couple dead toads with bulged, white eyes rotting on the silty bottom. And yet after all of that Root Porno is an appealing release. Just be prepared to get your hands a little dirty.
Root Porno is out now on limited cassette through Holy Page Records. Cheers to Christian for this one.
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