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NOTE: Posting has been sporadic. I’m well aware – I do my level best to get around to stuff, but school and work make it touch-and-go sometimes. Thanks to all those who still send me stuff. It will get reviewed, I promise.

ANYWAY! We got sent this from a publicity guy. This time, the ‘sounds like’ area is marginally closer to the truth. Vulture Kult practice a pretty big sounding brand of RAWK. They bill themselves as a two-piece band, but they’ve got a surprisingly expansive sound. There’s a variety of takes on the same style with this record – though some go for a swinging SABBATH groove, and some for a straighter, faster pace, they always hew pretty closely to a 70’s hard rock sound. No complaints over that, for sure. These guys are good musicians, and it comes through without coming across as wanky or show-offy. Guitar work is good, but you won’t find too much in the way of fretboard-burning solos – the guy definitely prefers the lower end of the neck, but he works it, for sure. Blues-rock riffs for days on this thing. There’s hints of BLUE CHEER, I’d say…but a punk influence as well, mostly manifesting in a faster pace, and shorter songtimes.

It’s a tried-and-true formula, and it delivers for Vulture Kult – mostly. Some songs like “Avenue H” come up empty, if only because doing a trick we’ve heard before is only gonna float if the riffs and power are there, and this one just hasn’t got them. Come to think of it, the most accurate thing I can say about this album is that to any listener who’s already heard the musical touchstones, it’s gonna sink or swim in your estimation based on how much you like the riffs – that’s the centerpiece here. “Cyanide Hand Grenades” deliver…”Welcome to the Land of the Dead” and “Movie of Me” are welcome changes of pace, but like some of the other tracks on the album, they can over stay their welcome a bit. They take an interesting turn in the last couple songs, dipping into psychy reverb-laden space drift, but if these were scattered throughout the album, I’d probably be more intrigued…it feels like a strange coda in the current track listing.

With bands like this that focus on the humungo riffs, they either punch you in the nose and are gone, or they have to have enough tricks to keep the intensity up. Vulture Kult does this with equal proportion of hits to misses – I’ll file this under “probably a killer live show.”

LISTEN: Bandcamp

BUY: Vulture Kult

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RATING: 5.7/10

EndAnd are a Brooklyn 3-piece playing music that lands on the brawnier side of pop. The press info tells me they do ‘Noise Rock/Punk/Power Pop’ that’s ‘disarmingly human’…welp, I’ll give ’em ‘power pop’. I wouldn’t say it sounds like the PIXIES – it’s not willfully dissonant in the way Black Frank & Co. could be, and definitely not as weird. Nor would I say it sounds like GUIDED BY VOICES – though the basement-rock-aspiring-to-arena-glory tone may be there, it’s too put-together, too polished. They definitely don’t sound, as the one-sheet would like me to believe – like the Melvins or Nirvana – who the hell writes these things?

Anyway, the release is split into two halves: “Adventures of HiFi in Space,” which are studio recordings, and “Adventures of LoFi in Space,” a collection of DIY recordings. HiFi comes first, and is comprised of 5 songs. At times, like on “Commando,” the guitar work is interesting, and it’s undeniable that the musicianship on this album is better than the average rock release at this point. Despite its billing as ‘uncompromising’, the album seems very middling. It refuses to move too far in any direction at all, which basically makes it ‘the average rock release.’ It’s tuneful, but not to the point of instantly memorable hooks. It’s muscular, but not to the point of exciting you, or tiring you. It’s noisy, but carefully hemmed in to retain the pop edge – certainly not enough to go up against even a band like Wavves. It’s a very careful balancing act, but by covering all bases at once, it fails to make an impression on any one of those bases.

Fortunately, LoFi fares a little better. Things are more interesting than HiFi almost immediately. The first seconds of “Dawl” introduce a smear of guitar before introducing a track which could legitimately be read as GBV. “Legend” is an acoustic number which follows an ‘unplugged’ type formula, but makes interesting use of tape loops, or hiss, or something, i dunno – point is, the weird bed of sound they lay down is cool. “Sweet” is a short pop track with some nice guitar lines, and “When and There” is a strummer which is fine enough, I guess, but it definitely goes on too long. On the whole, the LoFi half is significantly more redeemable than the HiFi half, but I wish this band would take more risks – the entire endeavor feels a little too safe for me. Given that they were billed as “Noise Rock” and compared to, of all people, Jay Reatard, I was hoping for a little more firepower. Pitchfork will probably like it.

LISTEN/NAME YOUR PRICE: EndAnd Bandcamp 

RATING: 6.7/10

Memory Motel are a Reno, NV group, and judging by the name and the test-pattern aesthetic of the cover, you’d think they were a chillwave thing. Fortunately, they’re not – they play a hazy psychedelic pop spiked with electronic elements. This short little 7″ contains only two songs, the first of which is “Wasted Days,” which features spacey keyboards and gentle, chiming guitars. It’s all held together by a pretty cool drum loop – it’s reminiscent of BOARDS OF CANADA, but maybe with the DEERHUNTER guy singing…but imagine that guy didn’t suck so badly. It’s pleasant to listen to, and builds nicely to an actual riff without devolving into a smear of instruments, and without coming off like a gimmick. It’s a pretty solid track.

The B-side is called “Lost Souls”, which doesn’t quite work as well. The guitar part the beginning is built on is really nice, but the keyboards are relied upon too much – it feels about twice as long as it actually is. It feels very, very heavily influenced by Radiohead’s “Exit Music For A Film,” but there’s not quite enough going on here to keep my interest, though the whistling is nice. This band  does a good job of mixing electronic elements with non-electronic elements, and knows how to create a lush soundscape, for sure, but with time, the songwriting is sure to get stronger.

LISTEN: Wasted Days, Lost Souls

BUY: Memory Motel Bandcamp

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

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: 8.1/10

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…

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