RATING: 4.7/10 

Giving Up are made of three musicians who are sad about stuff, but want to be happy – the liner notes inform me that this album is about “being bummed on the social climate and current state of affairs but also being hopefull and positive about it changing, and not just like general worldly peace but also local and intra’peace too.” Oof – high aspirations for any record, let alone a nine-song slab of standard indie-rock/pop along the lines of BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE. They’re sad, but it sounds like the only weapon they’ve got against it is sheer, blind optimism and ‘no-bad-vibes’ mentalities. Admittedly, it’s a little saccharine – not my cup of tea to begin with, but I’m not one to shoot something down out of hand. I guess, as a bitter jaded cynic, I admire the heart-on-sleeve idealism a little, and I’d bet all the members are really, really, really nice people…but I just can’t get into this record.

“Peace Sign/Frown Face” features songs based on guitar and drum, but led by male/female dual vocals, which is probably the biggest obstacle here for me. The female vox are nice enough, but the male have a way of really getting on my nerves – strained, bleating, off-key – I don’t expect a Freddie Mercury performance from everyone, but when the vocals are this up-front and central to an album (almost to the point of shutting out the music), it gets trying. That being said, there are some melodies here, even if they’re presented in a slightly wonky way. Giving Up are one of those bands that tend to write lyrics in complete and grammatically correct sentences, which makes for good lyrics, but for some strange melodies that meander and drift all over the scale – there’s memorable lines here in the lyrics, but good luck humming them in the shower. Tracks like “Blue/Green/Grey” and “Glue, Green Glitter” manage to strike a balance between the wordy lyrics and walkabout melodies, and it’s almost a little catchy. The lyrics alternately work and fail, with equal spectacularity. For every clever line, a song like “Ghosts” is quickly derailed by a spiel about 9/11 being an inside job, and the assassination of the Chilean president in 1973…where’d that come from?

The music has a ramshackle, adorably sloppy sound, but the album itself is gorgeous – sky blue vinyl, a huge hand-painted poster with a nice message from the band – one of the best packaging jobs I’ve seen in a while. I’m sure that a lot of people would really dig this record – I’m just not one of them.

LISTEN/BUY: Sophomore Lounge Records

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RATING: 7.7/10

This blog has covered BASS DRUM OF DEATH before, so we were excited to hear that there’s fresh sounds coming from the camp in the form of the Unwed Teenage Mothers, a new project from BDoD drummer Collin Sneed. Overall, the sound is similar – the vocals are coated in the same lo-fi slime as those on “GB City,” but this puts a toe on the brake pedal and ramps up the hooks. Opening track “If You Think You’re Lonely Now” is a mid-tempo tune which really, is barely garage punk at all – it’s more jangley pop-rock with a grandiose, sweeping feel, which I don’t have anything against categorically, but this track is a little lacking in the cojones department, and isn’t really catchy enough to make me forget about that.

Following this is a little bouncy ditty called “FFI,” which is less expansive than the first track, but is also a little less memorable, save for the stop-start chorus. It’s over before you even realize it, but fortunately it goes right into single “Why Does It Have To Be Tonight,” a driving number which is basically a poppier BDoD tune, but it’s not a bad thing at all – in fact, it’s probably my favorite track on here. Closer “Vein” is a mid-tempo tune which really, is barely garage punk at all – a tambo-lead beat and a fucking great bassline supporting a vocal melody(!!!). It recalls BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE in its lazy, bluesy lope, but still bears the punk edge of its creators’ other band – yeah, it’s really, really good.

Overall, despite a lackluster start, this 7″ is fairly impressive. There’s 4 tracks here, each in fairly distinct styles – a real achievement for a band I had somewhat pegged as one-trick ponies. Put plainly, this record is worth your money – just maybe start with tracks 3 and 4.

LISTEN: “Why Does It Have To Be Tonight” on Soundcloud

BUY: Speakertree Records

RATING: 8.9/10 – TOP TRASH

Swedish punk sung in French reviewed by an American writer. Globalization’s nuts. I know maybe 10 words in French, so I’ve no clue what they’re singing about, but it’s fast, it’s catchy, and it’ll get you moving. The band makes use of keytar, giving them a really strong LOST SOUNDS vibe, but it’s not used as a gimmick or a LOOK AT US – it’s just another instrument, put to excellent use on tracks like “Remords,” shooting the track through with some awesome squiggly Atari vibes. The song instantly burrows into your skull, even if you haven’t got the faintest clue what it might be about. This 84 second rager is over before you blink, but this veers into the utterly inexplainable “Le Voleur de Chaleur.” This track opens with a minute-long ye-ye detour – FRANCOISE HARDY vibes abounding, before dropping into a wasteland of fuzz as the party is suddenly crashed by ripping hardcore. Next comes “Le Vague Noire,” a mid-tempo song adorned by spoken vocals. The Game Boy sonic aesthetic works here really well. The keytar is immediately recognizable and adds to the music, but also shares space with the guitar on tracks like “Questions.”

The point is: Keytars aren’t a novelty here. It’s used to the same efficacy as any other instrument, and all 6 songs on this are winners. This isn’t being put out by any label yet, but it ought to be.

LISTEN: Cikatri$ Bandcamp

RATING: 6/10

Ghost Hospital play psych-influenced lo-fi garage. Though the easy comparison to make is the BLACK LIPS, there’s some sublter, weirder vibes at work. Combining trebley guitars and shitcan vocals the album feels made for a hot summer blunt marathon. It’s highly comparable to the HELLSHOVEL LP in tone and feel, but where that LP capitalized on shimmery, tweaked-out acid vibes and nailed them to catchy tunes, this LP lacks a little in the songwriting department. Side-A is dominated by hazy, sunny numbers, most of which recall (ugh) WAVVES. The tunes are simple, which isn’t a problem in itself – some of the best songs ever written are one riff and 2 verses at most – but in the case of this LP, the tunes just don’t seem to change much – they’ll cruise on the same couple bars, looped for the runtime. With the exception of tracks like “Sitting Duck” or closer “C+,” a lot of the tunes slide by without making much impression at all…which is a problem, given that the two tunes both show up 3 tracks from the end. This band shows potential, though – “Hard to Say” makes me think they’ve got some melodies in them, and the effects in “Salad Shjooter” and the sound effects hidden throughout the record make me think there’s some genuine good psych-ey things yet to come. This could be a really good EP, perhaps, but the tunes just aren’t all there for an album.

LISTEN/DOWNLOAD: Ghost Hospital Bandcamp

RATING: 8.1/10

Rumor has it this trio formed solely to open for TOTAL CONTROL…a worthy reason for doing anything, certainly. That’s the gossip, but realistically, though the TC influence is kind of there, Diät are mostly doing their own thing. A-side “Pick a Line” is a 3 minute ripper – coasting on minimal riffs (even using pretty much the same one for half the song), an amazing rhythm section, and ghostly Ian Curtis vocals. It’s brittle and haunting, but somehow tuneful. Call it a soundtrack for the apunkalypse.

Both the A-side and the B-side, “No Accent” are spartan tunes, all things considered, and this is why I’m inclined to downplay the TC comparisons – where TC is trancey, synth-based and paranoid, Diät are aggressive and prefer to grind guitars, rather than oscillators  – both these tunes have the same relentless feel as AUXES or TOKYO STORM WARNING…hell, even TV GHOST, in their more upbeat moments. Point is, there’s no pretension, no gimmicks here; just solidly executed post-punk, that’ll actually give you something to hum in the shower. And hell, you get some vintage lesbian erotica to boot! I’m not sure what that’s all about, but I’d buy that for a dollar!

LISTEN: Iron Lung Bandcamp

BUY: Iron Lung Records

JOEY GHOSTLY is the amp-murdering frontman for NYC trio THE ENTHUSIASTS, who are tearing shit up with their brand of 70’s inspired in-the-red rock and roll. After a 7″ last year which has been extremely well received (“Sinkin/Risin b/w Joanne”), they’ve finished their new LP, which is pretty fucking great. Joey took time to drop these 10 bangers on us; “it’s just shit I’ve been into lately,” he explains. “Actually its a good playlist to bump in the car on the way to a show…with the exception of the neil young track cuz that 1 is mad slow and depressing” – we’re inclined to agree. Get your ears bloodied at the link below, and check THE ENTHUSIASTS ON FACEBOOK

1. Timmy’s Organism –  ‘MONSTER WALK’ One of my favorite tracks off the new Timmy’s Organism LP.  Surprise surprise, Timmy’s still got it. duh.

2. Apache – ‘THE REAL SHIT’ A real gem from Apaches underrated debut – Boomtown Gems.  An anthem that makes us bummy dropouts and jobless weirdos look cooler than the college grads.  “you wanna be a scientist, suckin on your mommy’s tits” …need I say more?

3. Mujeres – ‘BLOOD MERIDIAN’ Good fast sloppy Barcelona garage rock.  For fans of Davila 666, Los Vigilantes, or for anyone who has a soul.

4. Jay Reatard – ‘MAN OF STEEL’ R.I.P. Jay.  Total genius and huge influence on me, blah blah blah.  One of the first Reatard tracks I’d heard was an old demo of this song. I love both versions.  You don’t know how badly I wanna hear the rejected version of Watch Me Fall.

5. Blondie – ‘YOUTH NABBED AS SNIPER’ I’m just now getting into Blondie.  I never thought the Lost Sounds were influenced by Blondie till I heard this track.  RIPPER.

6. Midnite Snaxxx – ‘GUYS LIKE THAT’ Catchy hooky sugary girl punk.  As fun as the first Donnas album.  These bitches can write hooks for days.

7. Baby Jean – ‘DANCE IF YOU WANNA’  Like i said – this is for anyone that has a soul.

8. Human Eye – ‘THE MOVIE WAS REAL’ The Movie Was Real!!!!!  From Timmy’s best album ever and modern psych classic They Came From The Sky.

9. Neil Young – ‘MOTION PICTURES’ Another song about movies.  Recently I was talking with a friend about whether this song was happy or sad.  I’m still not sure. All I know is that slide guitar kills me.

10. Ty Segall Band – ‘WAVE GOODBYE’ Sam from the Nubians showed me this one and I was surprised how much I dug it.  This is one of the only Ty Segall songs I really like. Heavy as fuck.  Good job, Ty.  Maybe theres more up yer sleeve than I thought…

http://www.mediafire.com/?q1qbcjqkxqrdxes

RATING: 7.2/10

This 12 song LP is based primarily on the notion that even if brevity’s not the soul of wit, it may be the soul of songwriting…despite the title. The band was meant to be, according to frontman Davey Hart, ‘an experiment in rapid, unfiltered songwriting…indulging my deep love for 70’s power pop, punk, and new wave.’ It’s a fairly spot on characterization – the songs here are pretty short, but they’re not simple – the shortness is very much in the vein of the UNNATURAL HELPERS, who actually sound kind of similar. Christmas Brides’ rapid songwriting translates into short little nuggets that sometimes work and sometimes don’t – though tracks like  “Ge Rm Ans” have a goofy charm, tracks like “He Thinks I’m Experimental Gay” get stuck in the mud, repeating the title, or stuttered chunks of the title ad nauseam, or just rely on lyrical clunkers like “your pussy commands me like a noose” (yeah, really).

Despite some woeful turns of phrase, the record has some pretty good moments – the best moments are when the BUZZCOCKS influence shines through – tight, polished numbers that can shift rhythm or riff on a dime…see “New Hit Mekanik” or the closer “I Know What Girls Don’t Like.” Even if it’s all a little silly, I can appreciate a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously – between the awesome cover art, and the toss-off Doors-copping intro for the sake of a pun, the LP manages to win me over. I could criticize it for scattershot songwriting, but that just seems to be the nature of the beast – there’s enough good moments here for me to keep this one in the collection.

LISTEN/BUY: Sophomore Lounge Records

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