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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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RATING: 7.4/10

With cover art like that, I wasn’t sure what to expect – maybe another faceless hardcore group. With a name like Tropical Trash, I guess I was ready for 3 chord lo-fi garage dreck. Instead, I got this Louisville band who practice a relatively spartan brand of post-punk – reserved vocals, fidgety drums, and stabby guitar. The A-side of this EP, “Baltimore” starts off and finishes intriguing, a rising guitar figure accompanying low, droning vocals – their promo page cites the Fall and Killed By Death, but these guys are far too competent at their instruments to sound like either. The band shifts things up a lot rhythmically, there’s distinct sections that all fit together well, but at…probably about the 3 minute mark?, the band seems to get lost – the steady chug of the song gives way to a couple minutes of pointless guitar scratching. It’s a little disappointing, because there’s parts of the song that are pretty good.

B-side track 1 is a little closer to the hardcore I expected, a churning little ditty called False Crypt. This is pretty fucking cool – it’s hard to nail down exactly who they sound like – I’m tempted to say WHATEVER BRAINS for the weirdness of it. “Pentagram Ring Finger” follows the same plan, and it’s equally good – it’s got a weird free jazz interlude…maybe a saxophone? guitar squeaks? I dunno – where “Baltimore” went wrong, this one nails it pretty hard. I imagine seeing these guys live might be a real treat.

Despite a somewhat lackluster A-side, this 7″ has not only some good tunes, but enough surprises to warrant repeat listens. Tropical Trash are at their best in the sub-1:30 songs – aggressive when they need to be, weird when they wanna be, and somehow tuneful despite it all. 200 copies on white vinyl.

LISTEN/BUY: Sophomore Lounge Records 

RATING: 8.5/10 – TOP TRASH

Hey guys, how ya doin? It’s been a while…things come up, I’ll do better. I guess I’ve also been listening to a lot of older stuff recently, so you don’t always get around to new stuff. Anyway, the new stuff I have been digging pretty hard is this fearsome threesome from Atlanta. Blood Bleeds is a wild, 11-track slab of rock-and-roll, shot through with a bitter vein of creeping tension. Opener “Red Eye” slithers along with a bass-driven groove, until it all suddenly explodes in buzzsaw guitars – the intensity is only ratcheted up further with successive tracks. The whole affair feels like the ROYAL BATHS LP that we liked so much earlier this year, but if it had been written and record after each member put down a bottle of rotgut whiskey.

“Hell Ride” is a more upbeat track in position 4, the bouncing bluesy vibe giving it a GUN CLUB feel which is not only entirely appropriate, but entirely ass-kicking. Or entirely awesome. Fuck. The vocals are strung-out, but also seem like they’re about one minute away from losing their shit, Alan Vega style – see exhibit 1, minute-long creep-out interlude “In My Bones”, which falls right into the churn of “Radiation Lady.” If I had to find something to take issue with on this album, it’s really only the vocal sound – I feel like these guys pen some interesting lines, but I wish I could hear them a little clearer. But don’t let that make you think I don’t really like this album – when you churn out tracks like the heroic builder “Gravity,” or the out-of-nowhere stomper “Stone Girl” you can do whatever you want. Got-damn! This is good. Buy it.

LISTEN: Vincas Bandcamp

BUY: Douchemaster Records

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: 7.9/10

Infinity Cat says that this record “reminds you that the two-and-a-half-minute rock’n’roll blast is alive and well.’ Bollocks on that; hey hey, my my, rock and roll can never die, so shame on you if you thought it was anything but alive and well. The future of underground music may be “microkorgs and looped nonsense,” but it’s not like I ever doubted whether bands were still cranking out 150 second amp-killers. Ya see, somethings – Twinkies, cockroaches, miserable relatives, the Republican party – just never die. Heavy Cream aren’t necromancers resurrecting some lost art form, they’re just one division of new generation of young turks taking up the torch of RAWKINROAL.

To give it to you straight: this album’s got intensity and swagger for days. Intense, but not macho or lunkheaded; fuzzy-buzzy, but it doesn’t blow itself out and flatline. The band does a really good job of pushing the envelope without sending the whole thing up in flames. The album is fairly consistent in color and timbre – rock-solid, amazing sounding drums, great female vocals, and titanic wall-of-fuzz guitars. There’s very little ornament or frill here. The music is stripped-down and muscular. Shufflers like “John Johnny” would fit in pretty well with the DETROIT COBRAS, while “Bad Genes” could be a BRAIN F/ b-side. Tracks like the opener flirt with an OBLIVIANS sound – all the musical touchstones here are winners. The album feels like a complete statement in pieces – it’s a solid album for communal, beer-swilling sessions in a dank basement, but does just as well on headphones, and maximum volume will indeed yield maximum results.

By the time the “Be My Baby”-jacking closer rolls around, you’re eager for another spin. It’s a very solid album; I can’t really fault it for any specific shortcoming, but I can’t give it ecstatic glowing praise (though some reviewers certainly will). Heavy Cream aren’t innovators or musical trailblazers – but they’re certainly master craftsman. The sound here isn’t innovative, but they get a great deal of mileage out of it and manage a rare feat indeed – a garage-rock LP that’s worth every minute of its runtime.

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BUY: Infinity Cat Recordings

RATING: 2/10 

What happened, guys? Remember when you put out a record called “Castle Storm” and it was an awesome blast of weirdo-rock with wall-to-wall classics like “Shuck the Corn?” And then you made “Heavy Days” which was also fucking great? Then we got…”We Are The Champions,” which wasn’t bad…and then a split 7″ with Best Coast…and then a tour with Best Coast…and now this WEEZER-like turd of a song. Dammit guys.

“Castle Storm” is a pretty great record – I pine for it a little more with each successive JtB release, since each bit of new material from the twins softens the edges, lessens the intensity, and with it, my interest in the band. The song plods along on a thumping beat and some lyrics that’ll be just the thing if you find WAVVES a little too intellectual and scholarly. It gets moderately interesting around 1:50, with the guitar harmonies, but for the most part, this song goes on until the band gets tired of the “woo-OOO-ooo-OOO” hook, which is about 2:30 (though it gets tired for the rest of us about the second time they use it). There’s no beginning, maybe two sections of the song, no ending, and no real sense of progress here – a really big disappointment coming from a band which used to cram more ideas into 90 seconds than most bands get in on a whole EP. Bottom line: you should calm down – these guys sure as shit have.

LISTEN: meh.

RATING: 8/10

I wanna give this record an even-handed treatment, because it occupies a special place in my collection. See, Impo & the Tents (get it?) hail from Sweden, and I picked it up in a great little shop in Stockholm last month. At the time, it wasn’t available stateside, but I happened to be in Sweden, and so it marks the absolute farthest distance I’ve ever traveled to get a record (even Google can’t figure out how I did it).

Anyway, I’m glad I went to fair Swedenland to pick it up, because this is a nice little 7″. It’s snotty, catchy garage/punk/whatever – in the vein of JAY REATARD, if he didn’t sound like he was about to collapse under 20 tons of paranoia, or maybe like a slowed-down DICKIES. That’s probably actually better – these songs are pretty light-hearted affairs, and the penchant for vocal harmonies means this could easily hang with those guys. The first track is a little power-poppy thing, followed by the Ramones-y “Four Eyes.”  It’s poppy and punky, but it’s not pop-punk – it’s tight, punchy, and will burrow into your head immediately.

3rd track “Eating From Your Hand” keeps pace, a bouncy track that might be my favorite here – it’s got great energy and a really memorable hook – ditto for closer “Tonight” – I got a feeling Impo & Co. do a fun live show. I really like that every track on this release seems more sugar-rushy than the last, even if they’re all pretty similar. It makes for a nice experience as each track builds upon the last, instead of opening with the bangers and slowly running out of steam the way some releases tend to. The release folds up as abruptly as it opens – after 4 tracks which probably barely top 5 minutes total, it’s over. In a way, this release has it all – hooks, fun, tight playing, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome – look for more from this band.

LISTEN: Bandcamp

BUY: Slovenly

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