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Tag Archives: Noise Rock

I’m always pleased to get submissions, but it’s a little obnoxious when I get sent stuff that has no relation at all to the typical style covered on here – the biggest howler by far was “[BAND NAME REDACTED]*  draws upon an eclectic palate of musical styles dishing out a healthy dose of rock, pop and funk/rap. [REDACTED] sounds like King Crimson and Weezer adopting Elton John, renaming him Prince, and celebrating with a sunbeam of absinthe.”

Fortunately, there’s plenty of submissions like Brooklyn’s SLEEPIES – who actually understand what we cover here, and they understand how to crank it up and get weird (and wild. and world?). Anyway, this LP plies a blown-out, fuzz-laden 90’s style alt/noise rock that triangulates between DINOSAUR JR. and SONIC YOUTH’s more accessible moments. Fortunately, there’s plenty of submissions like Brooklyn’s SLEEPIES – who actually understand what we cover here, and they understand how to crank it up and get weird (and wild. and world?). Anyway, this LP plies a blown-out, fuzz-laden 90’s style alt/noise rock that triangulates between DINOSAUR JR. and SONIC YOUTH’s more accessible moments.

The Sleepies generally don’t take prisoners, as on opener “Cool Boy’s” buzzy stomp (which is somehow still catchy). This is when they’re at their best; some tracks dial down the intensity in favor of atmosphere, or something like that. Fortunately, there’s enough high-energy moments, like “Got A Way” and “Setback” which make up for the couple misfires that either go on too long “Waste Water”, or don’t go much of anywhere (“Weird Wild World”). Too many bands are content to wallow in the mire, or strip all the interesting jags from their sound in favor of pop sheen. Fortunately, Sleepies can handle both.

*It’s redacted both to protect the band from the repercussions of embarassing copy like this, and to protect you, my dear reader, from whatever the fuck that hideous combination of genres and artists actually sounds like. 

LISTEN: Soundcloud

BUY: 16oh

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RATING: 7.7/10

The Greek are pissed off. Really, really, really pissed off, and this album is proof of it. Gay Anniversary are a Greek noise-rock band specializing in high-speed noise-rock assaults, anchored by pummeling programmed drums. The obvious comparison to make here is BIG BLACK or RAPEMAN, and St. Stephen of Albini’s influence looms large over this 10″. It’s all droning fuzz guitars, boom-chick-boom-chick drums, and jesus fuck – did they actually get a guy to play the Drill on “Cop City?”

The first two tracks are spit, fire, venom, and aggression – I don’t know really how to qualify the first track, “Lazy Boyz,” besides “fast,” “awesome,” and “will crush your stupid fucking face.” Then for track 3, things slow down (relatively), and there’s a cool little guitar solo. The whole affair moves forward with military precision, in lockstep with the drum machine, but then it’s right back to the races. “American Yard” is pretty cool as well, but “Choke This” approaches a new level of fury – hinting at cybergrind like AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED, but…ya know…good – I keep Altered States of America around to play for friends as a novelty, like “you think that’s fucked up? well listen to this…”, but Gay Anniversary will easily merit actual plays for actual people who like actual good, extreme music.

By the end of the thing comes, and “Fat Punks” rolls around, I’m more or less tuckered out. It’s a short little thing, but that’s just fine. There’s few things I appreciate more than a band that knows how to leave you wanting more – Gay Anniversary certainly do. They know their trade and perform it well – if I had to fault New In Class for anything, it’d be its lack of diversity. GA have one gear – skullfuck – and they can work it, but I’d also love to see what else their capable of. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but maybe they just beat you over the head with a tire iron instead.

LISTEN: Bandcamp

BUY: Slovenly

RATING: 7.8/10

Psychic Blood are a band from western Massachusetts who specialize in a ripping, jagged brand of post-punk. From the first second of the tape, the guitars kick you in the face, and they sound really good – they’re vicious, but not without their sweet side. They’re used for equal parts frantic, sharp-edged riffing and chiming, shimmering chord strikes. The violence and bluster of the music is balanced by the band’s reliance on vintage 90’s hooks – SONIC YOUTH and DINOSAUR JR. are both big reference points – “Annihilator” wouldn’t be out of place next to a track like “Mary Christ” on a mixtape. The band plays really well, and the production is great, save for the vocals – which are buried in the mix, and soaked in reverb and a harsh buzzing effect. It does enough to make the vocals completely unintelligible, which may be what PB were going for, but given how awesome the playing is here, it kind of cuts in on what are otherwise some pretty good jams – simply listening to the music here is enjoyable.

From the churn of “Annihilator,” we’re abruptly dropped into a fairly pretty drone interlude on “Roving Mind.” I do like the fact that things chill out a bit here and on through to “Tuff Luck” – there’s a trajectory to follow, making the tape more of a complete experience rather than a collection of songs. Some of these tracks are less melodic, and have harsher leanings, but for the most part, they’re always still enjoyable to listen to, even if some run on a tiny bit too long. Psychic Blood are at their best when firing off short, tightly-wound bursts of nervous energy, like “War Paint” or “Shallow.” And given how much I liked “Roving Mind,” I do wish they’d done a bit more of that – it’s great, but as the only track of its kind, it feels like a token or a toss-off. There’s flaws with this tape, naturally, but I’ll be keeping it around – Psychic Blood are a band that can make some major moves in the future.

LISTEN: Mediafire (courtesy of the band) 

BUY: Feeble Minds Records

RATING: 8.3/10

If you’re looking for pop hooks, go somewhere else – Cellos has none of that nancy bullshit. If you want tight playing and muscular noise-rock fury, this Ontario band’s got it in spades. This all-too-short LP packs a mighty punch, beginning with opener “Sea Legs,” featuring appropriately seasick guitars. The woozily swinging, yet driving pace of the song, combined with the maniac yowling vocals make JESUS LIZARD comparisons really, really fucking appropriate. What makes both that band and Cellos great are that they realize sometimes there’s more power in ebbs and flows, rather than simply throwing up a wall of noise and letting the whole album flatline on track 2. They understand that pedal-to-the-metal intensity becomes boring, or worse, comical after a while. There’s poison and venom leaking from every second of this release, but this band knows how to manage themselves, holding back momentarily or leading the listener down a false path, but can knock his teeth out with a searing dissonant interval only a second later.

There’s some really heavy riffage on this album, but where another band might use it to lay down a groove or ease listeners in, Cellos use it to keep us on edge – angular, nervous, and typically borderline-atonal – it’s well done. I’m especially impressed by the HOMOSTUPIDS-esque “Mass Production Scheme” and the cheekily-named “Hit Song,” which might be the most ferocious cut on here. It’s also remarkable how well this album is produced – the guitars all sound amazing, and the vocals sit just high enough in the mix. This is no shit-stained basement tape – again, this band is really great at avoiding the cliche pitfalls of their genre. By the time this record ends, it’s a little tough to recall what you’ve just heard – what leaps out is the intensity, and certain moments, like the massive guitar build on “The Greys” – but that’s not a judgement on the quality of the record here. Every track is worth its play time, and this LP will undoubtedly see many repeat plays – to my ears, a rare feat for noise-rock.

LISTEN: Cellos Bandcamp

BUY: Dead Beat Records (cool gold wax!)

cover

RATING: 6.5/10

Continuing our Montreal band kick, we have a 6 song EP from alliterative No Wavers Many Mental Mistakes. I confess, I had a bit of a tough time writing the review. Usually, it’s easy to slap together a few pretentious things to say, pick a few bands at random, but MMM honestly confounded a considerable portion of my usual arsenal. It’s not that they’re the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard, by a long shot, but it’s rare that you hear music this unabashedly experimental played this proficiently. Opener “Death Proof” lays out the MMM formula: thundering drums, mechanical, lockstep guitars, and haunting, ritualistic vocals. The track rumbles in the way some sort of esoteric invocation might. It, along with next track “CCC” have hints of dancefloor potential, though I’m not sure what club this would get asses shaking at (or if it’s the sort of club I’d feel comfortable or safe in).

It’s No Wave, for sure, but it lacks the herky-jerky frantic feel of No Wave touchstones – this is refined, polished, and strangely well mannered. The next track, “Birthday Party,” yields a possible touchstone in it’s namesake, all clanking, lurching drums and discordant squeaking guitars. The songs here definitely grab you – MMM have a knack for piecing together their songs in a way that feels remarkably organic, but even songs with really interesting beginnings, like the diet-SWANS track “My Way” get lost in meanderings that don’t so much end as they simply run out of steam. The last track “Quantum” is my favorite here, probably because it feels like the only one to capture the manic, unpredictable nature of proper No Wavers like THE CONTORTIONS. Here, the vocals are heavily treated with reverb, and allowed to ring out in the way that the voice begs for. It’s good, and it closes out this strange little EP very well. I confess, this isn’t my usual bag. Though the songs are all well-done, extremely original, and expertly played and recorded, there’s not much in the way of hooks to seize onto, which makes it a tough sit for me. I can’t see myself playing this more than when a certain mood strikes me, but for those who prize originality and love the weirdness, this will certainly be a band to watch.

LISTEN: http://manymentalmistakes.bandcamp.com/

BUY:  http://manymentalmistakes.bigcartel.com

Casette Cover

RATING: 7/10

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I came across this cassette by Montgomery, AL’s Japanese Women, but when I saw the cover, I expected ugly – and I definitely got it…in a great way. This cassette, released on Tapes of a Neon God (http://tapesofaneongod.com/) is 9 tracks and 18 minutes of gut-churning, groaning noise. Opener “A Baby Coyote” lurches out of the gate with a sea-sick slouching riff, before launching into a churning whirlwind, backed up by solid drumwork. It’s anybody’s guess what vocalist Weston is on about – his lyrics are buried in about 2 feet of fuzz – but I did catch the Black Flag-copping ending. So far, so good – almost reminiscent of a less cool and more misanthropic BRAIN F/

From there, the Women move into “Vulgar Tongues,” a mid-tempo tune built on dissonant chunky riffs and Weston’s broken glass and cigarette vocals. Though it’s reminiscent of a grosser A-FRAMES or SWANS, stripped of the lyrical satire or gothy melodrama, the song doesn’t make as much of an impression as the last one. The same is true for the next couple songs – though “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” opens with a cool, restrained creep, it descends into the same bashing concrete-block riffs. The rhythm work is solid, but the Women make a little too much use of the same sounds – though I dig the fact that the guitars on this sound like they were thrown out of a moving car, then re-tuned by a deaf man – I could use a little bit more variety, especially when songs stretch on for 2 or 3 minutes. Things pick up again with “Mayan God of Death Eats The Young Corn God,” which is abrasive, brash, and shitty in the best possible way. With guitars distorted and abused to almost sound like horns…fuck, this is what noise-rock ought to always be. Then it’s gone, closing with a slithering low guitar line.

After two more tracks of crash’n’bash riff’n’screech, “Bessie Rice and Ellie May” closes out the record with a thundering barrage out of nowhere, which evaporates barely 30 seconds later. The record simply vanishes – it’s like being lead around to different walls for 9 hours and forced to bang your head off of all of them. “Order” is an endurance test, despite the short runtime. There’s not really a bad track on here – though there are bits of filler in the middle, there’s moments of really great stuff.

LISTEN: http://japanesewomen.bandcamp.com/

BUY: http://tapesofaneongod.bigcartel.com/ $6 PPD

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