Punk rock jams out of Iowa City? Who knew? Well, now you do. Xerox recently released their debut on Hard Art Records, and “Revision” is the first track that has been made available and it’s a good one. They may be from the midwest, but they are definitely bringing their best sneering English attitude for this one.
The arrangement and verse/chorus/verse structure straddles the line between straight up punk rock and something a little more pop oriented. The crystal clear production and tight ensemble work really takes this out of the realm of the usual ultra-gritty, quick and dirty live sound and into the realm of the polished. Not too polished, let’s not get crazy here.
Clear cut guitar, no feedback squealing throughout every silence like we’re so used to hearing by this point. But the track is no less powerful in spite of it’s more clean and clear nature. This is still firmly rooted in the tenets of punk, but why can’t you find a good balance between greater accessibility within the greater aesthetic. Especially interesting is the way the song builds up right to the end with 16th note snare hits over top of muted guitar strings that seems to point to the development of a new section, but only serves to drive the track to its end.
Check out the track above and head over to Hard Art Records to grab a copy and hear all six tracks of the band’s debut EP.
Polyvinyl is one of my favorite labels out there today. They just have such a diverse roster, one that happens to include one of my favorites – of Montreal. But White Reaper, Polyvinyl’s newest addition, is really nothing like of Montreal. This band is punchy, energetic, and just on top of it. The rambunctious track “Half Bad” starts off with just about the best drum sound you could possibly hope for, and check that fill. How could a song that starts this way possibly be bad? The answer: it can’t.
This is going to be a perfect Summer-time, road trip jam. I’m sure you’re listening to it right now, but to my ears theirs is a sound that takes the grittiness of garage rock, the catchiness of some guitar driven pop, and the energy of punk, and they manage to mix it all together to great results. The catchiest thing is the little synth motive that substitutes for a chorus. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the scratchy vocal track, shouted and doubled to only add to the almost overwhelming amount of energy already present on the track. There is a bridge that takes things back a little tiny bit, though the catchy hooks stay dialed up throughout, and it’s only a matter of seconds before they can’t hold back any longer, tearing into one last chorus.
“Conspirator” helps bring the picture into focus as to what we should expect for White Reaper’s debut: more powerfully energetic rockers with pop hooks to spare.
Like I said, they are the newest members of the Polyvinyl family and that means that they have a release coming out. Their self-titled EP is available for pre-order right now on 180g clear pink 12″ vinyl, CD and tape. Pre-orders ship June 13th and the EP hits stores on June 24th.
The band is also touring right now with Young Widows. Check the dates below:
06/19 – Kansas City, MO @ Czar Bar
06/20 – Denver, CO @ Moon Room
06/21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
06/22 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
06/24 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
06/25 – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
06/26 – Sacramento, CA @ Witch Room
06/27 – San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
06/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Church On York
06/29 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
06/30 – Tucson, AZ @ Plush
07/02 – Austin, TX @ Holy Mountain
07/03 – Dallas, TX @ Dada
07/04 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Conservatory
07/05 – St. Louis, MN @ Firebird
I happened upon the Deranged Records bandcamp a while back and made it a point to bookmark it so that I would know to come back to it later. This album, “No Device,” comes to us from a band called Criminal Code. I think that the best way to describe their sound, not that you couldn’t just listen to it above, but if you are wary of clicking it for some reason I would describe it as a little bit harder edged and darker Hüsker Dü. The guitarist definitely has a tone that would make Bob Mould proud, with the chorus effect turned way up high. And, add to that the face that “Defective Parts” sounds a little bit like “8 Miles High” at the beginning.
Every song has that washy, swirling, ringing chorus effect, while the rest of the band fills out the sound with direct and immediate punk rock vitriol. The singer’s vocal yelps are powerful enough to cut through the din, but only just barely. It’s as if the vocals are adrift on the sea, just barely holding its head above water, especially in some of the more abrasive moments, such as the song “Corrosive.”
Standout tracks “Flagstone” and “Mocking Shadows” wander closer to a pop sensibility with honest hooks and catchy guitar melodies, sounding like Joy Division one second (in the case of “Mocking Shadows”) and A Place To Bury Strangers the next. It’s the component of the dark tone that each of these bands shares, keeping Criminal Mind an arms reach away from poppier tendencies, shrouding them in near complete shadow.
The entire album is available on their bandcamp page, and can be heard above. Check it out.
Continuing with my trend of posting streams of gritty garage rock, now we’ve arrived at Scraper.
This is the first full length release from the San Francisco garage punks. What makes this even more exciting is that the LP has been released in a super limited run of only 500 copies, through Cut-Rate Records. Unfortunately the bandcamp page only allows us to listen to 30 or so seconds of each track, but it is more than enough to let us know what kind of jams we can expect from the album.
The singer is clearly taking some cues from Joey Ramone (not at all anything wrong with that), and the guitars are coming through loud (maybe too loud?) and clear. Everything in the mix is overdriven to the point of distortion, and I actually had to check more than once to see if it was just some coincidence that both of my speakers blew as I was listening. (They hadn’t).
For those of you paying attention, it seems like San Francisco is the place to be right now, for the music scene alone. There’s Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees throwin’ down copious amounts of punk thrash, then there is White Fence, somehow lumped into the whole mess with his retro tape-noise laden Left Banke reminiscent tunes, and then there are the even grittier, unpolished acts that make all the aforementioned sound down right radio-friendly like Terry Malts and these guys, Scraper.
Head over to the Cut-Rate Records bandcamp page to listen to the samples and then grab the super limited album. You can also find Cut-Rate Records on Facebook.
As if you couldn’t already tell, I’ve been angling toward the noisiest, most abrasive music that I can find. The more messed up the rhythms, the faster the songs, the more angular and distorted the guitar parts and the less intelligible the lyrics the better.
Bbigpigg is currently on tour through the beginning of November and is also offering a five song EP, “Phantom Photography,” for free at their site. There is also another free download at their main site here.
Similar in overall sound to THIGHS, Bbigpigg takes their energy over the top and keeps it there. Something comparable in texture to At The Drive-In where it’s impossible to discern where one guitar ends and another begins. Everything is just a cloud of interconnected squeals and accents pinned to the ground by a rumbling bass. “Bitch-Hogg” takes a completely frantic approach rhythmically, with air-raid guitars cutting across everything in its path. Everything is just heavy as hell, and worth more than a few listens.
Check their site for tour dates across New England and make sure to grab that download.
Toronto thrash punk is alive and well, apparently. THIGHS sound like Tangiers having a seizure. The disjointed, monomaniacal, throbbing rhythms with ultra crunchy guitars and shouted vocals is nothing but pure energy and raw power. A song like “Tunnelr” covers a lot of ground in it’s 2 minutes, going from stomping, mosh inducing potential energy to the release that comes toward the end in the form of a 3 against 2 rhythm that sounds down right groovy coming out of krautrock-land where they began.
Each of the 9 tracks are similar in their sound: dominating bass pushed almost to the point of distortion, the guitar’s tentative grasp on pitch. Think the rhythm section of “They Threw Us In A Trench and Put A Monument on Top” era Liars with the guitar-as-extension-of-the-drums noise blasts of “Drums Not Dead” era Liars.
It’s actually remarkable how quick THIGHS goes from noise to total silence. The start-stops are so crisp and punchy, placing the intermittent silence at equal footing to the noise-stomp that encloses it, for example in the track “Horse.” A song like “Meat” pushes the mechanical kraut-rock sound to an industrial grind, driving that one chord into your head one measure at a time.
The self-titled album is available as a download on bandcamp for any price you care to pay, though I would suggest grabbing the limited edition (only 100 made) vinyl from Not Unlike for only $15. This should be on your turntable right now, loud enough so that the walls blow out while people 2 miles away call the cops.
Not many bands (I actually can’t think of any off the top of my head) would be able to make use of 4 guitars and have it all make sense. Diarrhea Planet, on the other hand, are bringing shredding back to rock. And right from the opening of the album they aren’t afraid to let you know that they are not messing around.
“Lite Dream” moves from quadruple guitar solo, to straight up punk rock right before they march right into Iron Maiden territory. It makes sense to get as much use out of everything on stage as possible, so in order to do that there is a lot of stretching out, doubled guitars, solos, layered solos etc.
You may have heard about these guys before if you are a fan of Titus Andronicus (and why wouldn’t you be?) whom Diarrhea Planet opened for last year when Titus was touring for “Local Business.” I remember Patrick Stickles tweeting over and over again about how these guys would knock it out of the park night after night, but there was no way for many of us to know what he was talking about because they were pretty much just getting started. Now it turns out that Stickles was right. He was very right. The New York Times even agrees, as does NPR, who featured them on their All Songs Considered podcast.
Long story short, these guys are blowing up and you need to get in on the ground floor, it’s worth it. For a full album of guitar assault that knows how to make use of its resources, while at the same time managing to control songs to the point where they don’t go too far. Apparently it is possible to have a band like this with a minimum amount of wankery going on.
This live clip of “Kids” says it all. It starts out delicately enough, but it’s really only holding back before all hell breaks loose.
They are currently out on a seemingly never ending and constantly expanding tour (I’m actually leaving my apartment right now to see them here in Eugene) with support from NYC’s So So Glos (founders of Shea Stadium) and putting on a fantastic, amazingly energetic live show. More on that later.
The album, “i’m rich beyond your wildest dreams.” is pure rock and roll. I’m already sick of various sites saying that they are “equal parts Weezer and Whitesnake” as NPR does, or something similar that evokes the name of some crappy corporate rock hair metal band from the 80s. Whitesnake has nothing to do with this music. Whitesnake were a product of money-grubbing, coke-addled music execs in the 1980s. Whitesnake, in short, sucks. They sucked then and they suck now. There is no point in listening to them at all. But I digress.
There is a purity of the song writing here that takes more from the punk/DIY aesthetic than it does from the hair metal aesthetic. Sure, on the surface there are guitar solos all over the place, there’s finger-tapping, there’s palm-muted eighth notes on the lowest string (tuned to D or even C sometimes) but those things don’t add up to “hair metal.”
A song like “Separations” has a lot more to do with catchy hooks and punk attitude than anything else. Let’s not discount the fact that these guys can play. There is not a single second of insincerity on this album. “Hammer of the Gods” is more punk than it is metal. The entire album walks the line in that way, which places it firmly more in the Misfits camp than it does with Whitesnake. There is a lot more going on than what it sounds like after listening to one guitar solo doubled in thirds. Everything on the album is done because it makes sense to the song, everything serves the song. We know this because not every track on the album is structured in exactly the same way. Some have verses and choruses, while others have extended intros followed by a verse and an extended outro (see “Ugliest Son”). At no point does anything sound out of place or arbitrary due to trying to jam ideas into a form that doesn’t make sense for that particular song. The same can be said for the album as a whole; there aren’t any songs in the sequencing that are placed there because, say, they needed an upbeat 1st single and then a slow song for a 2nd single (that a band like, say, Whitesnake would do. And maybe that is one of the reasons that they are pointless to listen to, Whitesnake I mean. They are so of the time. Everything about music like that and albums like theirs is that they are very “of the time.” Taken out of context, or listened to in 2013, those albums can’t connect with us anymore because they just don’t make sense anymore).
Diarrhea Planet is currently on tour practically non-stop, criss-crossing the country until the middle of December and it seems like they are adding dates into all the free time they can. If you live anywhere between Sand Diego and Portland, Maine it’s only a matter of time before they are in a town near you. Get out there and see them, say hi, and buy the album. It’s currently available on CD and Gold Vinyl (with download code) from Infinity Cat.