[pre-order] Iron Reagan – “Crossover Ministry”

Iron Reagan’s latest, “Crossover Ministry,” serves up a healthy dose of hardcore punk energy and attitude with thrash metal chops and aggression. Really the more that I listen to it the more Tony Foresta’s vocals remind of Tom Araya’s. It could also be that right now I’m listening to the track “More War” where Foresta alternates the title with sardonic battle cries of “let’s make more guns!” and “we live, you die.”

It’s pretty clear that Iron Reagan isn’t really going for the “evil” aesthetic like Slayer. The band does a much better job of capturing the overall spirit of hardcore punk. One can detect a touch of Black Flag and Fugazi  in some of the more biting lyric deliveries.

Take for example “Fuck the Neighbors.” Starting with a brief skit of a milquetoast neighbor wondering when the band’s loud party is going to end, the song counters with a steady pounding of muted eighth notes  with Foresta barking, “Fuck the neighbors, fuck your yard, the more you complain, the more we go hard,” and “not my problem!”

With “Grim Business,” heard above, the dual guitar attack storms through what seems like an epic two and a half minutes. Most tracks on “Crossover Ministry” hover within the one to two minute range. “Parents of Tomorrow” is the briefest track, clocking in at only seven seconds.

The hardcore punk ethos comes out in the brevity of the songs. Iron Reagan doesn’t seem particularly interested in languishing on lengthy introductions, or constructing complex transitions into extended solos. Every song starts out urgently, and doesn’t let up before an inevitably abrupt close. Sure, there are guitar solos on many of the songs, but they are definitely not the focal point by any means.

Great album from start to finish, showing that Iron Reagan is able to shred, and not take themselves all too seriously. This is exactly the album that we need right now. Blistering, forceful, and even a little bit cynical.
Pre-order Iron Reagan’s “Crossover Ministry” and tour dates
And you can find “Crossover Ministry” in any number of formats both physical and digital on either the Relapse site, or the band’s own bandcamp page.

You can also find the band on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Finally, Iron Reagan has a bunch of shows coming up to promote “Crossover Ministry.” Check them out below:

—All dates 2/24 – 3/17 with Power Trip —
Feb 24 Houston TX, Walter’s
Feb 25 New Orleans, LA Siberia
Feb 26 Birmingham, AL Saturn
Feb 27 Raleigh, NC Kings *
Feb 28 Richmond, VA Broadberry *+
Mar 01 Baltimore, MD Soundstage *+
Mar 02 New York, NY Marlin Room +&
Mar 03 Pittsburgh, PA Spirit +$
Mar 04 Cleveland, OH Now That’s Class +$
Mar 08 Montreal, QC Les Foufounes Electriques
Mar 09 Ottawa, ON Brass Monkey
Mar 10 Toronto, ON Velvet Underground
Mar 11 Detroit, MI Marble Bar
Mar 12 Chicago, IL Reggie’s
Mar 13 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock
Mar 14 Des Moines, IA Vaudeville Mews
Mar 16 Kansas City, MO Riot Room
Mar 17 Oklahoma City, OK 89th Street Collective

*w/ Genocide Pact
+w/Concealed Blade
&w/ Krimewatch
$w/ Protester

— With Wrong & Night Birds 3/22 – 3/24 —

Mar 22 Orlando, FL Will’s Pub
Mar 23 Miami, FL Churchill’s
Mar 24 Tampa, FL Crowbar
Mar 25 Greensboro, NC Blind Tiger

[pre-order] of Montreal – “Rune Husk”

Surprise! of Montreal dropped news on Friday that they have a new EP coming out. “Rune Husk” is a four-track EP that focuses on the darker, more introspective side of Kevin Barnes’ songwriting. It’s a continuation of the more dour side of the band that goes back to an earlier EP, “thecontrollersphere,” and its follow-up LP “Paralytic Stalks.” “Rune Husk” is quite a contrast from the last few full-lengths, especially the relatively bright “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” and the at times danceable “Innocence Reaches.” In hindsight, though, those albums feel like departures  meant to mask the brooding lying just below the surface.

“Paralytic Stalks” was the last of Montreal release with its more or less classic lineup. James Huggins had left prior to the album, but Dottie Alexander, BP Helium, and Davey Pierce remained in the touring lineup, though the album was a very Kevin Barnes solo affair. The albums which followed found an entirely new band, new approach, and new sound. The songs remained autobiographical, but  clearly showed new influences, namely folk, country, and blues.

The material on “Rune Husk” shares more than just the brooding atmosphere that exists on much of “Paralytic Stalks,” but also a return to Barnes’ characteristic lyric writing skills. Verses are often packed to overflowing with a manic spattering of literary references, and more SAT words than a David Foster Wallace novel.

Songs are as solid as one would expect from someone who has been writing music for over twenty years. Some elements become exaggerated though, like Barnes’ penchant for disjunct, labyrinthian song structures and chord changes that sometimes drive a song’s key structure off the rails. That being said, if you’ve been an of Montreal fan for a while you’ll pretty much know what to expect.

It appears that now, with “Rune Husk,” the darkness hidden below the surface couldn’t actually be covered for very long. Whatever temporary reprieve was granted between of Montreal’s last three releases has concluded and Barnes’ is shown retreating back into himself to face his fears, and frustrations, head on.

 
Pre-order and stream of Monteal’s “Rune Husk”
The album will be officially released on March 17 through Polyvinyl, and you can pre-order it here. You can also stream the album on Bandcamp, Apple Music; and purchase it digitally from iTunes, or GooglePlay. Other options available at this link.

Dal Niente & Deerhoof: “Balter/Saunier”

Anyone who has ever listened to Deerhoof knows that everyone in that group is ridiculously talented. I would think most fans also know that Deerhoof founding member and drummer Greg Saunier graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory with a degree in Music Composition in 1991. If, maybe, you didn’t know that, then hopefully it now sheds some light on the complex nature of the many rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic twists and turns throughout Deerhoof’s extensive output.

Well, this isn’t a Deerhoof album. This album is, rather, a collaboration between Deerhoof and Chicago-based 22-piece contemporary music group Dal Niente. The result is nothing short of stunning.

Marcos Balter’s compositions, the seven-part “meltDown Upshot” and “Pois que nada que dure, ou que durando” are every bit as complex and engaging as anything found in Deerhoof. Satomi Matsuzaki’s delicat voice, though normally in considerable contrast to Deerhoof’s unbridled, and sometimes thrashing arrangements, is actually complemented here by the orchestration.

On “meltDown Upshot: Part 5, Home” Matsuzaki is accompanied by piano and violins before a distant sounding shuffling snare enters, sounding like an intimate lounge engagement. At the next vocal entrance the voice is doubled by horn, with the ensemble continuing to grow, eventually including glassy, sul tasto string work.

Many of the “meltDown Upshot” songs benefit from a similar treatment, orchestrating in Saunier’s virtuosic drumming, but never placing it in the spotlight. Instead his snare work manages to remain within its place as ensemble backing. Saunier’s trademarked pushing and pulling of the downbeat is kept in check; obviously an element of his style that may work within the context of a four-piece live rock band, but not so much with a twenty-two piece ensemble.

“Pois que nada que dure, ou que durando” I just want to mention because of its use of quarter-tones as prime melodic material. That’s not the only thing that sets this work apart from the “meltDown Upshot” pieces, as “Pois que…” is orchestrated much more spaciously. An air of experimentation surrounds this work, much like some of Deerhoof’s extended works that usually grace the latter third of their albums.

The twenty-plus minute “Deerhoof Variations” works really well at tying several separate ideas from across several songs and albums into one unified work. It’s interesting to hear many of the band’s ideas cast in a much different light.
Get Dal Niente & Deerhoof: “Balter/Saunier”
The album was released last April. You can find it digitally or on CD on  Bandcamp; or simply digitally on iTunes, and Amazon. You can also hear the album in its entirety above.

[pre-order] Jantar – “Panisperna”


Moving into calmer waters from yesterday, New York-based group Jantar’s “Panispera” is a mostly contemplative affair focusing on lush harmonies, extended instrumental breaks and at times hypnotizing stretches of stasis.

“Saint Margaret of Antioch” features some of the aforementioned lushness  in the form of three-part vocal harmonies in the opening minutes. The remainder of the nine-plus minute epic is an expansive instrumental break that is akin to meditative psych-rock.

All but two of the album’s six tracks stretch beyond the nine-minute mark, with the exceptions being opener “Born Without Bones” and the understated “Udolpho” clocking in at fifty seconds and ninety-five seconds, respectively. “New Fête Galante Blues,” which closes the album, is the longest of the album’s offerings, at eleven and a half minutes.

I wouldn’t normally focus on track timings, but I think that it becomes an important element with a group like Jantar, or an album like “Panisperna.” The songs here benefit from not being crammed into diminutive forms. Slower harmonic rhythms allow solos to search for their footing and extend ideas over the course of repeated musical phrases.

Take for example the sax solo on “Oracle Repetition and Departure.” Naturally it exudes a little bit of a “Dark Side of the Moon” vibe, but it never approaches the stratosphere, or aspires to virtuosity. Instead we’re treated to a spacious, continually expanding melody that never separates itself entirely from the underlying material.

That, I think, is the key here. To throw in some sort of wild, instrumental acrobatics would be completely unfitting anywhere on “Panisperna,” though I’m sure at times it would be tempting to do exactly that. Across the album’s longest tracks listener’s are given well constructed songs up front in more or less traditional structures, with thoughtful extrapolations of those songs then following.
Pre-order Jantar’s “Panisperna” from MIE Records
The vinyl version is only being released in an edition of 400 with a download code. “Panisperna” will, of course, also be available digitally. The album will be available on the same day my country officially falls into the hands of an egotistical misogynist, with a short-temper, tiny orange hands, and no grasp on the U.S.’s founding principles, January 20th. You can get that vinyl or digital version here.

You can find everything else that MIE has to offer on their site, or follow them on the internet’s cesspit, ie. Twitter.

[pre-order] PC Worship – “Buried Wish”


Off-kilter genre-hopping, or maybe it’s more genre-meshing, is what PC Worship does best on their latest “Buried Wish.” The album is available for pre-order right now through Northern Spy Records, and set for a February 24 release.

It’s hard to even know where to start, or where to dig in with an album so varied. Starting with the instrumental prelude “Lifeless Rain on an Empty Moon,” heard in the video above, and moving through the noise of “Blank Touch” we’ve already covered a lot of territory. By the time we get to the title track everything is torn down and built back up again from nothing.

The track “Buried Wish” lays down a nice landscape of feedback over which a pervasive drum beat creates a minimalist loop. Following that we move directly into “Flowers & Hunting,” which takes off into a completely different direction previously unexplored. The gritty folk sound calls to mind earlier Beck, or maybe Sonic Youth’s “Winner’s Blues.” A shoddily tuned guitar rattles along under a dazed delivery of trippy lyrics that wander off into oblivion.

“Torched,” to me, is one of the highlights. Opening with pastoral, echoed guitars, blinking over roaring drums, we’re in Akon/Family territory now. A slack-stringed, beautifully de-tuned guitar treks through an extended melody as gentle background plucking floats off in the distance.

Album closer “Tranquil Pain” takes the same guitars as “Torched,” but adds Thurston Moore-type vocal delivery, and a droning violin, and its Velvet Underground overtones, to the mix. This is a whole other world from where we began with one-part experiments. Rather, on “Tranquil Pain” we approach more traditional song structures, and even a memorable, damn near catchy vocal melody.

Anyway, I’m not allowed to upload any of the songs, apparently, so you’ll just have to take my word for it, and deal with just hearing the low-quality sound of the garbage video above. They premiered the album on a much bigger blog, so you can find it there, if you want.
Pre-order PC Worship’s “Buried Wish” from Northern Spy records
Here are all the relevant links you may need to purchase (highly recommended) “Buried Wish” by PC Worship:

Order direct from Northern Spy, or from PC Worships Bandcamp page.

You can also catch PC Worship out on tour in the coming months. Their dates are shown below:
2/03 Oberlin, OH @ Oberlin College%
2/09 Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong*
2/10 Norfolk, VA @ Charlies American Cafe*
2/11 Raleigh, NC @ Pinhook*
2/12 Secret Georgia*
2/13 Gainesville, FL @ The Atlantic*
2/14 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl*
2/15 Nashville, TN @ The Cobra*
2/16 Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle*
2/17 Detroit, MI @ UFO Factory*
2/18 Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups*
2/19 Harrisonburg, VA @ The Golden Pony*
2/20 Philadelphia, PA @ Baird Mansion Atrium*
2/21 Brooklyn, NY @ The Park Church Co-Op*

% with Tonstarrtbandht
* with Naomi Punk

The Fun Years – “Ask For The Omega Man”

The Fun Years are getting ready to release their latest full-length. “Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up,” which is currently up for pre-order on Spring Break Tapes. “Ask for the Omega Man” is the latest track off that forthcoming album.

Ben Recht and Isaac Sparks are The Fun Years, and after poking around Soundcloud for a while to get a feel for the duo’s trajectory “Ask for the Omega Man” sounds not so much like a departure from past endeavors as it is more of an expansion. Whereas a previous release on Spring Break Tapes, “Janice Was Into Recovery” from two years ago, is much more of a drone affair, “Ask for the Omega Man” is focused on more somewhat orthodox song forms.

I know that I already brought this band up the other day, so you’ll have to forgive me, but it would be hard to dismiss the Explosions in the Sky vibe throughout this one. But, at the 2:40 mark, as the lead guitar shifts into into its own haunting pattern, the mood of the entire track shifts from gloomy to nostalgic, even hopeful.

Guitar sounds are downplayed throughout “Janice Was Into Recovery,” while they are the main driving force behind “Ask for the Omega Man.” “Janice…” is made from smaller snippets placed up front in the mix, with melodic material cast more to the background, in an ambient texture. Where “Janice…” draws attention to its nature as a loop, “Ask for the Omega Man” shifts your focus elsewhere with melodic counterpoint keeping the scratchy sounds of the introduction at bay, and buried.

Other releases, including a 10″ out through Three:Four Records in 2009 find The Fun Years working in much the same territory as “Janice…” with somewhat more lo-fi production.

I like the direction that The Fun Years seem to have taken with this latest release. If we can judge an entire album by this one track, that is to say if every track on “Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up” takes a similar approach, then it is going to be a pretty good album for sure. The Fun Years might be worth keeping an eye on.
Pre-order The Fun Years “Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up”
Available on Spring Break Tapes! You can also get that 10″ from three:four records from 2009 here if you want to check out earlier material. That 10″ was a limited edition of 489 (?), which apparently hasn’t really been flying off the shelves. So if you have €10 lying around, there you go.

Nomad Stones – “Neighborhood Bird Dispute”

New England’s Nomad Stones have released a free, three-song EP on Brutal Panda records. “Neighborhood Bird Dispute” is a quick, eight minute blast of punk inflected indie rock. The EP features two brand new original tracks and closes out with a David Bowie cover.

The first track, the titular “Neighborhood Bird Dispute,” packs a lot into it’s barely two-minute track length. Forging ahead at break-neck speed, with fierce intensity, Nomad Stones pack a few verses and choruses as well as a blistering solo before the whole thing is over.

“Doom Whop” may slow the pace a little bit, but still manages to pack quite a punch. Across these two new original songs I’m hearing little elements that put their influences front and center. The cadence of the vocal phrases in this track   of The Misfits, while the Thermals are present in song construction and approach, and some of the vocal production sounds similar to that of Ted Leo. Everything mixes nicely to pack a powerful punch.

It’s a welcomed change that Nomad Stones chose to cover Bowie’s “Scary Monsters” rather than some of his more popular (and repeatedly covered) tracks. Bowie gets the punk treatment in Nomad Stones’ version of the track, without losing any of its sinister quality.
Get this EP and more by Nomad Stones:
“Neighborhood Bird Dispute” is available for free at Bandcamp, but that’s not all. Nomad Stones have a full-length album that came out earlier in 2016. The full-length a self-titled affair with eight songs that can be heard over on Soudcloud. On the full-length you can expect to hear more of the same power-punk energy as on the EP. Be sure to check out “Dirty Boots and a Friend Named Goo,” a track consisting entirely of lyrics made from Sonic Youth album and song titles. Definitely worth checking out. That full-length is available on vinyl over at the Brutal Panda site.

 

better than Pitchfork.