6.10.2018

HARD LEFT




















"we are hard left"
Year:  2015
Country:  US
City:  Oakland
Label:  Future perfect
Format:  CD, LP
Tracks:  20
Time:  37 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:        Oi!



















I am not the most qualified reviewer when it comes to modern-day Oi! music. Yes, I am familiar with the genre in general - I still spin Cockney Rejects, The Oppressed or Angelic Upstarts from time to time, and Cock Sparrer is the one band that has never been deleted from any of my iPods - but for the most part, I’ve been largely dismissive of anything current. In the mid to late ‘90s - around the same time I sported a bomber jacket and a suedehead cut -I curated a series of mixtapes called I don’t know anything about punk or ska or Oi!, so, yeah, I’ve been claiming to not know anything about the genre for a long time. But it couldn’t be any truer today, as a quick audit of my music collection shows I dipped out on contemporary Oi! or street rock, as it were, sometime around The Dropkick Murphys’ Sing Loud, Sing Proud album in ’01. In the interest of full disclosure (and with all due respect to the late Bruce Roehrs, whose column in Maximum Rock’N’Roll was one of my favorites,) I find most present-day Oi! to be nauseating and imprudent. So with that being said, I’ll ignore my savant-like urge to list every skinhead band that has “broken” or “heroes” in their name (137) and plow forward the best I can here with hopes that it doesn’t result in a boot party on my cranium. Having existed in one form or another since the early ‘90s, the New York-based skins in Broken Heroes want to make one thing crystal clear: they are not a punk rock band - they are an Oi! band. Musically speaking, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect too: hard-driving and palatable street rock-n-roll, with gruff-throated lead vocals that show the wear of years spent smoking cigarettes and/or pouring back bourbon, and topped off with melodic gang-style sing-a-longs. The production value is on the cleaner side of things, allowing for some guitar intros and soloing reminiscent of Red Alert or Hard Skin - a comparison that would no-doubt infuriate the members the band, but isn’t any less accurate. I don’t really see myself listening to this many more times, but on the upside I am psyched to pull out my old Bruisers and Ducky Boys records. And with that, I shall now recommends you to listen to these veteran "hard mods" (*Review by Nathan G. O'Brien ).
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5.31.2018

LITHICS




















"mating surfaces"
Year:  2018
Country:  US
City:  Portland, OR
Label:  kill rock stars 
Format:  LP
Tracks:  12
Time:  38 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:        Post Punk




















Angles and rhythms aplenty from Portland's Lithics. Second album Mating Surfaces maintains momentum with fast riffs, mobile bass lines and tight drumming. Their rhythmic approach to the overlap between indie and punk is reminiscent of Dutch greats, The Ex. And if you know me that is certainly high praise. Since their inception, Lithics seemed destined to transcend the promise of their previous bands. Counting members of yesteryear punk powerhouses like Psychic Feline, Nucular Aminals, and We Quit among their ranks, the Portland four-piece’s evolution has been relatively quick, culminating in their 2016 debut Borrowed Floors, one tape, and an EP of “audio ephemera” that includes many early versions of the songs on their new album, Mating Surfaces. As a statement of artistic identity, Mating Surfaces is about as defiant as you can get without simply releasing a record full of roiling feedback and nothing else. And while its cornerstones sound somewhat familiar, the songs are nevertheless taut. Lithics delivers thoughtful dissertations on self-expression and a cultural divide growing ever wider (*Review by Ryan J. Prado ).
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5.16.2018

FUCKED AND BOUND



















"suffrage"
Year:  2018
Country:  US
City:  Seattle
Label:  Atomic action
Format:  LP
Tracks:  13
Time:  24 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:        Hardcore


















Born in a warehouse in South Lake Union, Fucked & Bound delivers Seattle hardcore thats built to spank thru. With their album "suffrage", the band slams forth thirteen songs in twenty-four minutes in an acid bath of pure sonic fury. Brickwalled and claustrophobic, these tracks seethe over feminism, anarchism, and the pitfalls of industry, to ask, what is the cost of good living? The Rudimentary Peni lurch of the closing track, “Abuse of Registry,” indicates that this band has more to say/write in the coming years and does not intend upon staying silent. Mungo further develops her style in this song, adding a crusty tinge that not only recalls Filth in their heyday, but also the singular vocal styling of Seattle’s own Skarp. The versatility found on this record is unlike most hardcore punk records in 2018. Rather than sticking to one style and becoming a genre band in an era where genre bands are succeeding at high levels, Fucked And Bound take stylistic chances within the d-beat and punk universe without sounding the least bit contrived. The overall aesthetic of the band is polemic, divisive, visceral and unapologetic. 2018 is begging for more bands like this. Remember when every asshat you knew said that fascist political atmospheres breed the best punk bands? Well, fuck that, cuz it’s escapist bullshit.
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OFF WITH THEIR HEADS



















"in desolation"
Year:  2010
Country:  US
City:  Minneapolis, MI
Label:  Epitaph
Format:  CD, LP
Tracks:  12
Time:  33 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:        Punk  Rock


















Minneapolis punk band Off with Their Heads began in 2003, taking their membership from area punk and hardcore institutions like Dillinger Four, Dear Landlord, Banner Pilot, and the Fake Boys, among others. Based around the depraved and hard-living themes of vocalist Ryan Young's songs, the band existed mostly in the form of an endless string of EP and split 7" releases for many years. Also focused on constant touring, Off with Their Heads maintained a revolving lineup so they could stay on the road more often. In 2007 they released All Things Move Toward Their End, a collection of highlights from the group's lengthy vinyl-only catalog. This compilation was followed in 2008 by their first proper full-length, From the Bottom, and the group self-released a video for the album's song "Fuck This, I'm Out." The band followed up in 2010 with In Desolation. By the time their third album, Home, was released in 2013, the band had finally solidified a permanent lineup, with Young on guitar and vocals, Robbie Stewartwood on bass, and Justin Francis on drums. This album entitled "in desolation" was and probably is still their best recording ~ Fred Thomas
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5.07.2018

TURNSTILE



















"time and space"
Year:  2018
Country:  US
City:  Baltimore
Label:  Warner
Format:  CD, LP
Tracks:  13
Time:  30 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:        Hardcore        Punk


















The “experimentation” on the Baltimore band’s latest album is hesitant and unfocused. It’s a punishingly familiar collision of yesteryear's crossover rock with textbook hardcore bluster. Turnstile’s fans—at least in the colorful imagination of their haters—are a legion of spin-kicking sycophants splayed akimbo in mid-air devotion, cheering the thrash-funk and rap-rock that surely no savvy hardcore fan misses. But the Baltimore-anchored five-piece deserves credit for riling these hardcore purists, who often sound like musical xenophobes when they decry outside influence. The backlash against the group also seems to stem from the presumption that the popular and resonant music of one’s adolescence—in this case, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Deftones, and 311—is categorically irredeemable as an adult. But Turnstile’s unlikely rise to a nationally adored major-label act shows hardcore’s nascent poptimism: Fans’ latent fondness for the alt-rock radio of their youth is resurfacing in their affection for Turnstile, even if they’re quick to point out, a smidge defensively, that the band cites its debts to lumpen bruisers such as Madball alongside Rage Against the Machine.


But the “experimentation” advertised on Time & Space, Turnstile’s third album and first for Warner Bros. imprint Roadrunner, is hesitant and unfocused. Instead of woven throughout the album, the flourishes are like mismatched ornamentation, out of place. To wit, Diplo’s synth squiggles on “Right to Be” are a celebrity cosign, not a touch of boldness. The 25-second R&B sketch “Bomb,” echoing the Gap Band’s hit “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” is a derailment, not a detour. The album also includes an interlude called “Disco” and the cover sports a disco ball. Unless it’s about selling pre-order bundles, which come with a disco ball keychain, this theme is mystifying. Certainly, none of the songs themselves sound inspired by disco, and the imagery isn't imaginative enough to compensate for the record’s fundamental shortcomings. It’s not exactly the conceptual, post-hardcore verve of Fucked Up. Even relieved of these distractions, Time & Space is actually a punishingly familiar collision of yesteryear's crossover rock with textbook hardcore bluster.


Turnstile developed the sloshing hi-hats and mid-tempo strut of its early EPs into a more careening sound on 2015’s Nonstop Feeling, with vocalist Brendan Yates adopting a syncopated, Anthony Kiedis-style yawp atop blocky riffs and zigzagging solos. A perceptive troll listed Hot Action Cop’s sub-Limp Bizkit rap-rock hit “Fever for the Flava” as “Turnstile 'NONSTOP FEELING’” on YouTube; it has 12,000 views. Perhaps chastened, Yates raps less these days. Time & Space has more lift than Nonstop Feeling, with texture and contour conveyed by tuneful backup vocals, tambourine, and handclaps where they’re unexpected. “I Don’t Wanna Be Blind” is like Deftones with more low-end, while “Moon,” on which bassist Franz Lyons charismatically croons, is an outlying bit of spritely pop-punk. The tasteful overdubs, along with dynamic mixing, rescue some songs, such as “Generator,” from feeling aggressively antiseptic.
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4.20.2018

WAR ON WOMEN



















"capture the flag"
Year:  2018
Country:  US
City:  Baltimore
Label:  Bridge nine
Format:  CD, LP
Tracks:  12
Time:  36 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:        Hardcore        Rock

















Rising feminist punk outfit War on Women are gearing up to release their sophomore album, Capture the Flag, on April 13th via Bridge Nine. Much like 2015's incendiary, eponymous debut, the new album - which they cut with Jawbox mastermind and area legend J Robbins - acts as an ear-splitting extension of the band's staunch feminist ideals. Rather than include the usual gang vocals, the band say they chose to "cultivate the singular voices of women who have devoted their lives to riling against the powers that be." One of those voices belongs to riot-grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Julie Ruin), who gives a screaming assist on the roiling "YDTMHTL" (short for "You don't tell me how to live"), a track penned in opposition of cat-callers, slut-shamers, politicians, and worst and most insidiously of all, garden-variety misogynists. Capture the Flag preorders are live now at this location, including an "workbook" edition featuring lyric sheet and song dissections, relevant quotes, a reading list, and more.
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"idem"
Year:  2015
Label:  none
Format:  LP
Tracks:  14
Time:  36 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:        Hardcore        Rock








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