Category Archives: Bandcamp

[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

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.

 

Snakes of Pennsylvania – “Snakes of Pennsylvania”

Snakes of Pennsylvania’s eponymous release was among Field Hymns’ final releases of 2016. It should be noted that last year was a fantastic year for the label, and it remains one of my favorites. Field Hymns is usually my go-to spot for analog synth jams, but I always like a good deviation from expectations.  The album remains in fairly subdued territory throughout, so maybe we aren’t too far afield after all.

Starting from the middle, with “Instrumental One,” we find a simply stated, spacious, analog synth-based track. There are a limited number of layers, which keeps the texture uncomplicated and focused. “Instrumental One” is based around a simple, descending minor third motive entering after a brief ambient introduction. A dissonant second line then begins to counter the motive, before fading into a lulling and bright coda.

The track that follows, “The Human,” may contrast arrangement-wise, but is agonizingly beautiful nonetheless. The hushed guitar melody comes from the same world as the quiet moments of any Explosions in the Sky song. However, here a single guitar fills the role of Explosions’ three while still managing to capture the ambiance in between the notes as they gather.

“Attack of Lyme” adds to the album’s already varied palette with a plucked steel string acoustic adding more presence to the sound. Synth sounds skitter across the landscape as fingers skid down guitar strings in the foreground. A similar acoustic guitar sound appears throughout “Kolbojnik,” which features an even more patient construction by taking long breaths between fragmented melodies within a minute long framework.

“Snakes of Pennsylvania” successfully melds ambient analog synth sounds with guitars that both compliment and contrast.  The synth sounds end up adding, surprisingly, to the Americana sounds generated by steel string guitars.
Find “Snakes of Pennsylvania”:
A limited number of cassettes are still available on the Field Hymns bandcamp page. As with any album on bandcamp, of course it is available as a download in any format you can imagine.

The Cigarette Bums – “Goofs on the Loose”

The Cigarette Bums are pretty much encapsulate the default sound that I’m looking for when I’m searching out new bands to write about here. It’s brash garage rock that’s disjointed (but not too disjointed); it’s not polished, and most importantly it’s just fun to listen to. Recordings like this that are mostly just a live performance lend to them a sense of excitement. Sometimes things sound like they’re about to fall apart, but somehow something manages to keep it all together despite itself. And I can’t help but say a little something about almost every track, because there is just so much good stuff on here.

“Goofs on the Loose” is a collection of tracks that walk the line between old school punk with shouted vocals that are not as concerned with intelligibility and tunefulness as they are with rapid fire shouts from behind a wall of noise. The important thing is that the songs are loud and fast,

“Dick in the Dirt” opens with something resembling the eerie arpeggiation of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” before going ahead with a very “In a Gadda Da Vida” influenced riff. That tune becomes somewhat of the basis of the song, buried back there amongst the noise and thrash, with The Cigarette Bums seeming to offer up variations on a theme of Iron Butterfly.

“Bums will Always (The Revolution is Over??)!!!” sports a very obvious Big Lebowski reference in the title and contains that quote in the track, which like the opening track “Nigel’s Journey Through the Terrestrial Plane” is more of a clever diversion than it is a proper song.

After that, though, things start to get really interesting. “Sunrise Over Garbage Field” sounds like Ennio Morricone re-imagined by a garage surf-rock band. I could see this as easily fitting into a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack, with it’s galloping rhythm section and Western twang.

“Stoned to the Bone” moves right on back to proper punk rock thrash, with a power-chord heavy chromatic riff that focuses primarily on two chords. Keep it simple, noisy, and straight ahead. At this point it’s still impossible to even try to figure out what any of the lyrics are, but it also doesn’t seem to matter as you’re bound to be singing along by now regardless.

After one last diversion with “SMTP Sax” we get what I think is the stand-out track on the album, “Don’t Mess Around (With Me).” It’s more developed than anything else on the album, with extended instrumental sections brilliantly dovetailed at the end. The track even tips a little bit to the psychedelic end, which leads perfectly into the opening of closing track, “Strange” which later pays homage to the Rolling Stones.

Looks like I’m getting out way ahead of this one, as the release date says September 8th. Why it’s going to be another 3 months I haven’t got a clue, but until then you can check it out on bandcamp. They do have a limited (very limited) cassette out right now called “Holy Smokes” that you can get from their bandcamp page.

The band also has some gigs planned in L.A., which are shown below:
Jul 06
Silverlake Lounge
Los Angeles, CA
Jul 13
Silverlake Lounge
Los Angeles, CA
Jul 20
Silverlake Lounge
Los Angeles, CA
Jul 27
Silverlake Lounge
Los Angeles, CA

JOBS – “killer BOB sings”

Today we’ve got JOBS’ track “Patient Angel,” a unique amalgam of several different styles crammed into a tight 6 minute track. Starting off with a detached, spacious, and hypnotic sound, the rest of the song slowly develops. Surprises pop up here and there, like the quick jolt of rhythmic guitar stabs that seem to come out of nowhere and then quickly disappear, only to return later as a sort of motive that ties some of the more disconnected stuff together.

The song is more of a journey, and something that really needs to be concentrated on from beginning to end as you listen or else you’ll miss so much of what is going on. The persistent, echoing bass drum in the background continually keeps the tension at a maximum, anticipating some of the crazier material that starts to crop up with increasing frequency as the end draws near.

One final freak-out comes crashing in quite literally at the last minute. They’ve been building to this, and the payoff is a a wildly distorted guitar bending its pitches like yelps in the distance, crying out over a crowd of rushing drums, and noise.

Their album “killer BOB sings” is due out at the end of this month, on June 30th, from New Amsterdam records, and can be purchased on vinyl or as a digital download from bandcamp.  A video for “Patient Angel” was premiered on popmatters, and can be checked out there or below.

Skinless – “Only the Ruthless Remain”

I have been waiting for the right album to come along so I could finally get to writing about some death metal. I’ve recently been feeding an addiction to the music of Cannibal Corpse, and I haven’t been able to stop listening to them for about a month now. It’s just every day listening to at least three or four albums. And it’s frustrating because I don’t really feel like I could write about them until a new album comes out, as their most recent was released in 2014.

Thankfully, Skinless is releasing their first album in over 7 years today. The album is “Only the Ruthless Remain,” an unrelenting onslaught of brutal death metal. Skinless is astonishingly tight, moving between insanely fast shredding to thick and heavy dirges, without warning. And, like Cannibal Corpse, Skinless has a way of sneaking in some deft sweeps of technical virtuosity with quick rhythm and tempo changes, the occasional asymmetric meter, and at times an actually swinging rhythm section. The solos throughout are particularly interesting in that they aren’t perpetually seeking to blaze through a million notes in a few bars, but instead are often times tracing out expansive melodic lines.

The track “Serpenticide,” sets a good example for the sudden metric modulations and tempo changes that take place in several other songs across the album. This one also features an extended dual guitar line that seems to purposefully avoid finding any sort of stability, instead wandering over top of a rhythm that never seems to stay in one place for very long. Drummer Bob Beaulac’s drumming is rock-solid, and often explores subdivisions and borrowed rhythmic values inside those subdivisions that lend the feeling of a looser groove, but are actually firmly in place the entire time.

You can hear “Serpenticide” as well as “Skinless” in the player above. Like I said, the album is out today and you can pick from any number of formats from their bandcamp page. The album is available as a digital download, 2 different kinds of colored vinyl, or as a CD.

And, yes, their new guitarist is named Dave Matthews, but it should be pointed out that he is definitely not the shitty acoustic guy.

Wume – “Maintain”

…and speaking of analog synth jams, here is another one, this time from Baltimore synth and drum duo Wume. The band has a new album out entitled “Maintain” on Ehse Records, also based in their hometown.

It’s difficult for me to quite put my finger on a genre that would best describe the jams on “Maintain.” Part Stereolab kraut-rock synths, part early Philip Glass, part psychedelic trance music, part Blade Runner soundtrack; it all depends on which element you’re focusing on at the time.

The buzzing analog synth square waves laid down by Albert Schatz loop, bounce, and layer, and occasionally float or drift in sustained ambience, all combining to create melody lines that dance across the audio field. That each track is averaging around 6 minutes in duration allows plenty of time for these ideas to slowly play out. The track “Voyager” finds the time to work through a complicated accumulation of sound before completely changing gears in the middle of it to try out some other catchy melodies.

Of course, I can’t fail to mention the drums. Bringing in complex meter changes and a jazz sensibility, April Camlin’s drumming really brings the sounds to life. Her rhythm is rock-solid, moving deftly from bare metronomic clicks in the background at the end of “Two Bridges,” or the simple (although, really not that simple for long) four-on-the-floor of “Gold Leaf” to subdued blast-beats of “Voyager.” (Yes, I said ‘subdued blast-beats. Listen to it, you’ll know what I’m talking about). Camlin works the entire kit, taking great pains to switch things up, moving through more timbres than I even knew were options as a drummer.

Check out the entire album above, and the video for “Ostinaut” below. The duo is currently on tour supporting fellow Baltimorian and synth aficionado Dan Deacon. “Maintain” is currently available on CD or vinyl direct from Ehse records.