Another dose of devastatingly sharp synth driven cold punk from Russia. Июльские дни graced these pages with 2014's Темные мысли, but their sound seems to come even more into focus with each subsequent release. Guitars swim in a sea of synths throughout, paving the way for direct leads that, in turn, set the stage for a barking croon that teleports all of the magic on '80s East European post punk into a new sonic vessel. The second track "Орфей" ("Orpheus") is ripped out of the montage scene of an '80s brat pack flick, and literally every one of these six tracks deserves to be a hit - including their adaptation of the Soviet band Кино's "Твой номер," which was a hit in its own right. Get ready for a deep dive.
03 August 2020
New York again? New York again. Eleven minutes of completely blown out bombast from 2015 - recording and replication assaulting all senses so severely that it's only moments like the guitar break in "False Reality" that you can actually take stock of what you are hearing. Total sonic annihilation...a not just an experience, but a fucking challenge.
02 August 2020
I saw someone describe this release as sounding "zany," and honestly I think you could just leave it there. Like a mash up of NWI quirk and jerky bursts of freaky UK anarcho, but all gakked out and fronted by a gnarly USHC singer. Yeah - "zany" works. Offshoot of the KALEIDOSCOPE family from New York, for reference. Get amongst it.
01 August 2020
History looks very kindly on GIANT HAYSTACKS. A decade in the past, literally every one of their recordings resonates, and I have spent entire days listening to their recordings in rotation and on repeat. The casual way Allan (AIRFIX KITS, NEUTRALS) turns D. Boon (or '78-'80 Robert Smith?) guitar discordance into Rough Trade jerky pop while the rhythm section takes a leisurely stroll through manic signatures and licks that will make careful listeners shed a tear, the band's approach is actual brilliance in action. Fast punk numbers like "After The Strike" are still dripping with earnest melancholy, while "Tools Of The Industry" are retooled (or just reimagined) sounds from the UK's anything-goes '80s, before "punks" realized either how to be musicians or what musicians were "supposed" to do. There's not a bad song in their arsenal, and This Is All There Is collects cuts from 45s and comps so I can listen to them all in a row....which I appreciate. There's more than this, of course, and you need to know every song on We Are Being Observed if you don't already, but at least I can hear "Wrong Shoes" and that DIAGRAM BROTHERS cover without having to change records now.
31 July 2020
30 July 2020
There were these kids from Wisconsin who I didn't really know when we moved (back) there in 2002/03. Some of them were around, some of them didn't live in Milwaukee and only showed up every now and then, and most of them were several years younger than the remnants of the '90s scenes that we were already friends with. This is all to say that I knew them, but our inner circles didn't really intersect. That changed over the years, and I ended up doing shows with some of them, even played in a couple of (very brief) projects with people rooted in that world, and I consider several of them friends today. But, I still find myself surprised when I go back and listen to some of the bands, and I wonder why they were not absolutely kicking my ass 17 years ago. Maybe I was too concerned with a Swedish DBeat, or something about the haphazard spastic energy just didn't grab me for some stupid reason but, while it was obvious that these bands were good, I don't think I acknowledged that they were great. I'll rectify that now: TAB! are great. These kids took early Midwest hardcore by the horns and refused to drag it out of the basement. Songs about diet soda, energy from adolescence. Eight minutes of magic.
29 July 2020
28 July 2020
27 July 2020
If you know me, and we've ever talked about records, then you have heard me talk about AFTERBIRTH. 1988's Who's In There? EP is truly one of the most mystifying records I own, and I have celebrated its inept glory more times than I can remember (and more times than most of my friends would prefer). Before everything was on the internet, the greatest sonic export from Tawas City, Michigan was a source of wonder, of laughter, of mystery, and even though we know more today than we did then....that knowledge has really only led to more questions. 1992's Oblivion & Ecstacy, released by an AFTERBIRTH rebranded as ANARCHY, shows a band who has spent a few years practicing, but whether or not those newfound chops worked in the band's favor is very much up for debate. The magic of Who's In There? is not that is is good, the sheer sonic abomination is exactly the appeal, and sadly that abomination has grown into a moderately competent but utterly horrific band. They are still noteworthy for the comedic Allin-esque growl and the sixth grade band class guitar solos, and I note with some resignation that the subject of "Sixteen" (the only track from Who's In There? that made the transition to the ANARCHY-era, and a track that is especially cringeworthy when heard in the context of 2020 ears) seems to have remained, well, sixteen. Even during their existence, AFTERBIRTH and/or ANARCHY was a band that couldn't decide if it wanted to be punk, shock rock, shitty Sunset Strip glam metal, or classic rock crooners (take a deep breath and accept my apologies before starting the five and half minute brutality of "Special Place" or the third rate "More Than Words" ripoff that ends the tape disguised as "Many Years Ago"), but I hope you will take some solace in hearing that they were, ultimately, bad at all of the things they tried. It would have been nice to have an entire cassette filled with the indescribable and accidental brilliance crammed into the grooves on that inimitable EP from 1988 but we all move on, and I accept the evolution of my beloved AFTERBIRTH. I wish they had never practiced. I wish they hadn't learned to overdub guitar solos, I wish they had never tried to layer backing vocal harmonies and I wish they had never stepped foot in a proper studio...but I accept them.
OBLIVION & ECSTACY (sic)
26 July 2020
This was a glorious find, even if it asked more questions than it answered. Wild and addictive new romantic rock 'n roll with generous doses of twee pop and swagger. The music is sweet, it's nice, it's corny, it's kinda like THE JUDY'S sometimes, FANTASY sometimes (I still need that FANTASY slab, if anyone's holding) but there are also plenty of campfire jams, and it all feels completely genuine. THE FIELD MICE came from San Francisco, and this (their sole release perhaps...?) came out in 1987. Choice cuts are "Happy With You" and "I Hate You," which are hopefully not written about the same person.