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 RATING: 8/10 

Whenever I get frustrated with how slow things seem to happen on the internet – getting an email back, or trying to download something, I try to remind myself how slow things used to happen – when hearing about the music scene in California used to mean waiting for a record to get mailed across the country, or waiting for someone to put together a zine, whatever – point is, sounds and musical ideas now move with such lightning speed that it’s almost meaningless to say “This is California punk” or “This is NYC garage” – the world’s so instantly accessible to us, what does it matter to say that a thing’s from ‘here’ and not ‘there?’

The question’s relevant, especially faced with the rise of a certain musical melting pot class, of which Austin’s Rayon Beach is a member. This 3 piece plays a brand of music that seems to me to be an amalgamation of a lot of things that are very ‘now’, and they blend it together in a good way. To put it down on paper, this is fairly laid-back garage punk, but the secret weapon is Rachel Scherr’s keyboards, which lift Rayon Beach above a sea of faceless similar bands. The keys shimmer and subtly add to the mix, notably altering the music, but not steping on anyone – deployed excellently on “Where Are The Cities” and “I Have No Body.” Tracks like the latter bring out the strongest strand in Rayon Beach’s musical heritage – the wave of Aussie punk that seems to be invading the entire world right now. “I Have No Body” cruises on a TOTAL CONTROL vibe, the track which follows feels like a souped-up version of UV RACE who can probably tie their shoes without fucking up.

The vibe of the Aussie sound is tweaked slightly – there’s a bit more energy on “This Looks Serious,” but this LP is still equally suitable for rocking out or eating breakfast. It’s probably most at home in your car’s tape deck when you’re cruising around on a hot summer day with nowhere important to go. It’s not all good vibes, though – the seasick “Airplane With Tits” showcases RB’s range; they can be snotty when the situation arises. There’s an interesting new-wavey quasi-gothy vibe to some of these tracks, the chugging, almost dancey pace, combined with the droning keyboards makes me think this could be equally well received by fans of Sisters of Mercy as it will be by BLACK LIPS fanboys. What makes this record so interesting is the moments like the guitar solo on “Staring Out Of An Apartment” – chorus, delayed, who knows, but the strange guitar texture mixes with the keys to create this cool pulsing sound – this band is lo-fi certainly, but it’s almost a shame that they are – at a time when any sonic dedication to anything but fuzz and noise is passe, it’s refreshing to encounter bands that actually want to produce interesting sounds.

“This Looks Serious” stands out as a…well, serious release – it’s not only good in and of itself, but it’s an excellent encapsulation of where things are at, circa 2012. They’re not an Austin band anymore than they’re a ‘band of anywhere else.’ It’s all just music at this point, and this is some damn good music. Rayon Beach seems to have a remarkably strong grasp of their own sound for such a new band; if this is their first offering, I can only imagine where they’ll be in a few years – watch these guys, folks.

BUY: http://hozacrecords.com/store/

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More! More! More!RATING: 7.75/10

Howdy folks

I switched to wordpress, but I won’t waste time on that, because Auxes aren’t wasting any time with this new LP. The first track, appropriately titled “I Can’t Pause It,” sets the tone – nervous scratchy guitars, rushing drums, and the seriously tweaked out vocals of Manuel Wertz. Wertz can’t tell if he’s crazy, you’re crazy, or he’s crazy for thinking your crazy, but it hardly matters when the Auxes is train is running straight into your fucking ears at 300 mph.

The record has touches of MILEMARKER, but it’s faster and stripped of the post-punk muddling that sometimes marred that band – this is all bones and barbed wire intensity. The endless churn of angular, yet oddly solid riffing, combined with the strange speak-y ranty vocals recalls NATION OF ULYSSES, but without the propensity for utter noise and winking irony.

The band has a knack for compelling chanted vocals, as on “Bad Cats, Nine Lives,” which features some really cool shouts of “control! control!” It’s really anybody’s guess what Wertz is getting at, but when it’s delivered with this such paranoiac energy, who cares? His vocals feel slightly more restrained than on 2010 effort “Ichkannichtmehr,” which is sad, but he’s still a cut above his peers.

Though Auxes have the right elements in place, their bag of tricks can be limited. The title track has great intensity, but it’s barely distinguishable from “Bad Cats.” Tracks like “It’s Not About You” or Side B standout “Paranoia,” with it’s bizarre “meow meow meow” bridge cut through the wall-to-wall spin-cycle riffs, but it can be hard to catch your breath with “More! More! More!” This is great for live shows, and I do really hope to catch these guys at some point, but it makes for an exhausting home listen.

The surging hardcore energy of “Tit For Tat” is reminiscent of a BRAIN F/ with a stronger melodic sensibility, as “Something’s Wrong” is straight from the playbook of punk elder squad OFF! (as is the Pettibon style cover art) – this band shares the instrumental competency lacking in most hardcore bands, and also benefits from lyrics that don’t read like half-baked political commentary. Auxes know their strengths, but I only wish they’d taken a few more risks – they do what they do really well, but this LP is a pretty similar play to their last one…sometimes there’s more energy and tension in a calm repose before the storm than  in all the world’s winds and thunderclaps.

LISTEN/BUY: http://auxes.bandcamp.com/album/more-more-more

Sorry for the absence. Wax Trash has been partying pretty hard celebrating the breakup  of garage-pop turdburglars JET. Anyway, we’ve got a slate of reviews, and we wanted to take a page from the Totally Awesome and Intelligent Dean Professor Mr. Sir Madame of Rock Critics and get them all out the door. Here we go.

1. SPIDER FEVER – S/T LP: Asskicking 70’s punk. It’s a solid meat-and-potatoes release; good, but not a must-own or anything. If you’re into the ‘old-guys-showing-you-how-it’s-done’ trip, you’re better off with drummer Mario’s other band, OFF! http://www.facebook.com/pages/SPIDER-FEVER/129516360409286?ref=ts

Grade: B

2. THE GLORIOUS VEINS – S/T LP: Not sure the Veins’ publicist really gets our vibe here at WT. This is fairly tuneful herky-jerky dancey post-punk…i guess it’s like FOALS? do the kids like them? 

Grade: C-

3. SLEEPING IN THE AVIARY – EXPENSIVE VOMIT IN A CHEAP HOTEL LP: Standard issue folk-punk. There’s some good moments and good lyrics on here, and the singer’s got his style down pat, but it gets a little too sleepy at times. scienceofsoundrecords.bandcamp.com/album/sleeping-in-the-aviary-expensive-vomit-in-a-cheap-hotel

Grade: C+

4. THE FUCKING HOTLIGHTS – HIGH SOCIETY TORTURE PARTY LP: Noisy hardcore influenced punk. These guys probably really like FUCKED UP, but thankfully aren’t as pretentious. There’s a few good moments, but 11 tracks gets tiring. http://thefuckinghotlights.bandcamp.com/album/high-society-torture-party

Grade: C

5. THE MOVEMENTS/ANGRY DEAD PIRATES – SPLIT 10”: European garage maniacs tear through 6 tracks of American garage. REIGNING SOUND vs. THE BLACK LIPS. The tunes are there, and so are the hooks, but the recording quality is a little exhausting. This is worth picking up. http://soundcloud.com/pariah-records/sets/split-10-pariah-02/

Grade: A-

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RATING: 9/10 – TOP TRASH

Well folks, it’s finally here. After “Cement Tomb Mind Control,” one of the best albums of last year, Midwest favorites The Hussy are back – and not only do they avoid the sophomore slump, they’ll probably end up as one of the best albums of THIS year, too. The LP is 14 tracks of fire, whittled down from 35. They’ve moved into some territory that’s definitely a little more psychedelic, away from the more straight forward garage-punk sound of Cement Tomb. The thrashing, surging crash is still there, especially on tracks like “SFB,” but the record opens up in a more subdued tone, with the grinding “Undefined,” which cruises along on a slow, steady beat and a guitar line which really reminds me of punk weirdos WHATEVER BRAINS, who put out one of the other best albums of last year.

The Hussy have expanded their musical palette in a really great way for this one.  Though the basic elements are still there, they’re deployed in what sounds like a far more careful, artistic way, in contrast to the 500 miles an hour whirl of CTMC. There’s a really strong influence of THEE OH SEES, especially on tracks like “Feeling Dry” which could fit in comfortably on any of that band’s 12 billion releases. There’s a whole lot going on here, and it really does demand a few listens to get a sense of it all.

The record is mostly split between two types of songs: white-hot, stomping Bobby-led guitar workouts, and shuffling, catchy Heather-led songs. Both are great, but they come together on “I Don’t Really Want To,” which is without doubt the standout track here – a 1:27 minute rager which channels “Heavy Days” era JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD in a fucking incredible way. I have but one complaint about this song, which extends to the rest of the record: the songs on here are so short, they seem underdeveloped at times – there’s so many great things going on, I really wish the band had given them a chance to develop. But that’s like complaining about needing to find a parking space after being given a free Maserati or something.

Calling any moment a highlight is difficult, though – the Hussy are firing on all cylinders here. “Dog Said Yeah” is a good example of their whole game – not punk, not garage, it’s straight-up rock and roll. This one goes into the tense, yet appropriately named “Harsh My High,” which reveals another strand of Weed Seizure’s DNA: the BUTTHOLE SURFERS. The playing on this record is really, really tight, man, but it’s not without it’s loose moments, like album closer “The Moon Rules #1,” a seriously slow, stoned noisy jam which reminds me of No Age, except it’s not boring.

It’s hard to summarize this record – all the bands I’ve namechecked are reference points, but the Hussy are mostly in their own galaxy at this point. Though there’s elements of different sounds here, The Hussy are a great up-and-coming band who capture very well the sonic landscape of modern garage/punk/whatever, but succeed very well in creating a record that’s utterly their own. Seriously, buy this now, or pay out the nose for it later – this won’t be leaving anybody’s collection any time soon.

LISTEN: http://thehussy.bandcamp.com/

BUY at Tic Tac Totally

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REVIEW: 4.5/10

Obvious Records is a Midwestern Punk label; I suppose they’re a new one, because this release will be their first on wax. This is straightforward – 5 songs from 5 bands for 5 bucks.

First up are Dekalb, IL’s Stockyards, with “Goons of Dekalb.” This is probably one of those cheeky “we’re so weird” songs, but there’s nothing cheeky about it. This is pretty awful. It starts off like an awkward high school talent show punk attempt, then turns into an awkward high school talent show punk attempt with quasi-screamo vocals. The Stockyards’ facebook says they play “high energy, socially-conscious punk music.” It’s anybody’s guess how socially conscious they are, because the production, vocals, and playing are mostly a big earache. I’m kind of sad I paused “Astral Weeks” to review this.

After the first abortion, Madison, Wisconsin’sDharma Dogsstep up to the plate. “Hoka Hey,” recorded by Bobby Hussy is ‘sap-suckling gunk rock.’ Whatever that means, this isn’t bad; there’s a good beat here – the kind that gets bodies moving at a show – but it’s also paired with a nice thrashy screamy section. The vocalist is content to sound like himself, which is something I really appreciate now that everybody seems like they’re either forcing their vox into some weird imitation of someone else, or submerging them in lo-fi muck and fuzz. There’s great energy here, and it’s convinced me to push on.

Uh-oh. Side B kicks off with another Dekalb band,The Phantom Scars.Fortunately, this is pretty good. This reminds me a lot of THE PENETRATORS, but with more bite and a lot more fuzz. The loose feel of it makes me think this was made up five minutes before recording it, but sometimes that works – and this does.

In the number four slot is Kalamazoo’sInflatable Best Friend,with their song “My Dead Bird.” This might be good, but I’m not sure. The recording is sub-Mummies quality, which makes it sub-sub-sub anything else. There’s a pleasant little PIXIES-ish middle-section, the quiet-loud-quiet thing that millions of bands do, but this one isn’t bad. The rest of the song doesn’t fare so well – it reminds me of THE PROMISE RING, but with squeaky, pained vocals. The band has some interesting ideas, though.

Last up isTHE OVERHEATERS,who are the best thing on here. A stomping, commanding riff and banging drums provide a nice counterpoint to the rest of the single, which has playing that’s amateurish at best. There’s a good gang vocal chorus; and some paper-thin vocals that actually work really well here – for some reason, it reminds me of “Heavy Days” JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD, but with a full band, and maybe less stoner-weird. This is a 1:40 blast of snot and punk energy that’s natural, yet also firmly in control. If you’re gonna check out any of these bands, make it this one.

Save for the Overheaters and maybe the Dharma Dogs, this is something to skip over. It’s only five bucks, and it’s a collaborative effort by some clearly new bands on a new label – I appreciate the spirit, and I do think there’s some potential here, but it’s just not something I’m dying to have on my shelf.

LISTEN:

Side A-
“Goons of Dekalb” by The Stockyards. From Dekalb, IL. 
“Hoka Hey” by Dharma Dogs. From Madison, WI. 
Side B-
“Under My Hood” by The Phantom Scars. From Dekalb, IL.
“My Dead Bird” by Inflatable Best Friend. From Kalamazoo, MI.
“Broken Bones” by The Overheaters. From Zeeland, MI.

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RATING: 8/10 TOP TRASH

I’d heard the 7” from these guys on Hozac, and it was pretty good – I remember liking it, but not really so much so that I could remember specific moments or anything. So, when I hear they had an LP out, I was interested, but not on the edge of my seat or anything. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. The band may call themselves the Ketamines, but they might be better named the “Shittonofacids” – this record is genuinely trippy in places – unlike certain bands content to place a bit of delay and reverb on the guitar and call it a day (I’m looking at you, Deerhunter). The Ketamines formula isn’t terribly complicated: Take 1 part BLACK LIPS and add some nasally indie rock vocals, then throw in a heavy dose of OH SEES weirdness and then make it poppy. Like, really poppy – “Teenage Rebellion Time” is bouncy and sunny and in a nice way. The next few tracks are all good, but don’t really jump out beyond a mental note of “Yup, good.” Once they get to “Ketamine Babies,” though, the Ketamines begin to show the interesting parts of their sound – surf guitar lines blend with the bubblegummy nerd-garage sensibility amazingly well. It’s really in the second half of the record that things get kicking; “Kill Me Now” worships at the altar of His Majesty John Dwyer, with an acid-soaked breakdown that’s one of the most compelling moments on the album. “Spaced Out” features a spooky verse, punctuated by some outer space keys; it’s fuckin cool. Then the last two tracks come out of nowhere. “No Grand Design” is a passable impersonation of the VENTURES or DICK DALE, with a seriously groovy guitar line. Then it closes out with “The Runaround,” which reminds me of Del Shannon for some reason.

The only disappointment here is that the album takes so long to really start up; although every song here is competent, the first half isn’t as interesting as what follows. It’s only in the second half that the Kets start to loosen up and let their freak flag fly – this could have been a fantastic EP, but it’s a good album. That being said, though, for their first LP, this is pretty fucking good: it’s ambitious, catchy, and creative – these guys are promising, and I think they’re only going up from here.

LISTEN: http://mammothcave.bandcamp.com/album/spaced-out-lp

BUY (Preorder): http://mammothcaverecording.com/releases/spaced-out-lp-preorder-blue-vinyl-100-copies

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RATING: 8/10

Sometimes you have a shitty, mundane, boring day, and then an unsolicited submission shows up in your inbox and saves it. Such is what Perugia, Italy’s The Mighties have done for me. This 5 track EP is straight-forward garage revivalism; the kind that fits in neatly on CHILDREN OF NUGGETS – nothing mind-expanding, but it’s a damn good time. Rollicking, rocking garage-punk at its most direct. “Misty Lame” opens with “Kelly Ride,” a 3 minute CRAMPS-y blast, complete with lyrics like: “Shake your love like a jellyfish.” Fuck all your colleges – THIS SHIT is REAL philosophy. If you’re not dancing to this, your ass is clearly broken.

The Mighties (I give them major points for managing to resist the temptation to dub themselves “Thee Mightees”) whip through 4 more tracks, rarely deviating from the formula, but when it works this well, who cares? I do like “The Seducer” a great deal – it’s a great track in its own right, but it also reminds me a lot (and possibly cops a melody from) fellow Italians SMART COPS, albeit without the speed-freak sensibility. My favorite track here is “The Mighties Theme,” pairing a huge, bombastic opening with a razor-sharp riff – usually I don’t care for band theme songs, but when they rock this hard, i’ll let it slide. Maybe the best part of the song, though is the background vocals/noises.

It’s certainly not a paradigm shift – it’s all a little bit cheesy, but the energy and number of genuinely memorable moments on this short EP makes it worthwhile.

LISTEN: http://www.myspace.com/themightiesband

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