Saturday, 31 March 2012

Colm - "45"

Colm originated from Fontenay aux Roses, France.
They played a blend of twee pop, post-punk, noise pop, and alternative rock.
Existing in the early part of the 1990s, the band released this EP - "45" - in 1992, and their only LP - "(Serum)" - in 1994, shortly before disbanding.
The music showcased on this EP is clearly that of avid music fans; crafted, honed, honest.
Singer Daniel Dauxerre spent his working hours behind the Paris counter of Rough Trade, which only helps to reinforce the afforementioned claim.
Above all else, this is a record by those who love records.

The opening track, "Starchild", greets the listener with the kind of noise associated with My Bloody Valentine (whose drummer coincidentally shares the same name as this band, though I doubt remotely related), before giving way to a riff closer to foot-tapping than shoe-gazing. The soft and comely vocals here seem reminiscent of lighter Dinosaur Jr. tracks - specifically when Lou takes the reins - and delivers the same power in it's catchy and playful hooks.
Swirling, encompassing, and ever so slightly jangly guitar licks dominate the outro of this song - offering a perfect composition of noise and pop.

"When I Was a Bird" follows quietly in the footsteps of the previous song. Dominated by a light whisper of vocals atop lurking, lurching, and muted guitars - this track revels in the glory of the loud//quiet dynamic.
The song relies heavily on the cooing repetition of it's own title, before ushering into the jarring line "When I was a bird/ I saw, and felt, everything so right/ I tasted the sugar of your life"; as the final word of that verse is spoken, the namesake lyrics are again repeated, this time above a roaring rise in thunderous drums, which breaks prematurely into the most rewarding of guitar hooks.

Track three, "Never Smile", opens with the ever-present swirling guitars, similar to Sonic Youth's signature sound. Buried vocals are what sells this song, with ripping drums and post-punk influenced guitar work taking the lead.
A short break down showcases just how much influence the band has amalgamated into their style, as we are presented with something much closer to Southern Death Cult than Sub Pop. The guitars then give way into a verse reminiscent of a jangling Joy Division, before lapsing back into their patented hiss of noise hooks.

"Orange to Green", the records closing song, clocks in at 7 minutes 21 seconds - and rewards us with a drawn out and realised explosion of shoegazing and noise rock.
Easily the heaviest and most dense track on the EP, the band shows one last triumphant flare of piss and vigor, amongst the soft lullabies of pop and post-punk.
A suited finisher to a sonically soothing experience.

It's not often you stumble across a little known band with such a remarkable sound; that you know, given the right chances, could've been huge. Colm are exactly that.
They have just the right amount of fermenting feedback to satisfy the most fervent of underground fans, and couple it so passionately with calming pop sensibilities - harkening as far back as "Pet Sounds".
Yet, they have become victim to the passing of time, and are ghost-like with their presence.
For those who love their music to subdue and suffocate, this is unmissable.


- Thom.

Dreamdecay - Fern

Challenging noise from where else but the hub of punk ingenuity, Washington state. Dreamdecay are a Seattle born toast to a doggedly unwavering, touch-warmer-than-death strain of noise rock.

Their five track record 'Fern' floats into being with a blizzard of screaming guitars - a clamorous instrumental race to the beginning of the song that sounds like Earth trying to play a 'Bloody Valentine jam and freaking out under the frustration. 'The Dire and Ever Circling Wolves' with another guitar and a Scratch Acid injection.

On first hearing the vocals I thought they pulled directly from the commanding cries of Michael Gira, yet there's something almost heraldic about these utterances, that kind of touch upon desert splutters and doomy coughs. Praise to the lead singer though, whose post-punk lump in the throat does well to arc over the top of the candle-lit tumult swarming beneath him.

I think the intention with this record is to initially trip up it's listeners, with huge blocks of impassable sawing, screeching fuzz and buried beneath the sand vocals. 'Fern' throws all of it's initial weight behind the idea of testing you as a listener, but comes down hard with lashings of North Western musical heritage to wash away the drone fan's take on rock that you've been struggling to swallow. Tracks II & III do much of what the opening number did, but bake it into four and two minute drone odes to Confusion Is Sex.

'Fern' treads heavily, most often at a lumbering pace, yet ignores the confines of already written Sludge metal and takes convention to task with the bestial assault of the Melvins and a charged post-punk overlay. The now noticeable slacker vocals push a little harder into the skirmish.

Things progress to an almost funereal state by the time the ending track appears, not before track 'IV' gets to flex it's Jesus Lizard without the metal chops with a quickly spun math-y opening that ends up working as the entire spine of the track, holding up a canopy of drawn-out early Swans electricity.

The sheer love for butchering about with feedback and laying off any metallic precision keeps this record constitutionally punk in some sense, but the common feel of 'Fern' doesn't lend itself to anything other than a 'noise' tag. There are passages of ear-splitting doom, vague dream sequences of gazey proportions and even a well submerged predisposition towards the sooty grunge of Mudhoney. Get listenin'

Dreamdecay - Fern

Thanks to Justin of the band for sending this in. You can check out the band's blog here

- Josh

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Violent Future - Demo

This bunch of fun time punk fellows play out of Toronto, and harbour members of Urban Blight, the now defunct Bad Choice and the fledgling S.H.I.T. - whose demo also dropped this year.

The Toronto scene is known to me as being an axis of confident, beat heavy, often old time, 80's indebted Hardcore. Merely dip a toe in and you'll be dragged off by a slipstream of great Torontan bands. Kremlin are a Germs polluted ode to a less attitude ridden H100s. School Jerks play what they want and Urban Blight stomp harder than any.

The Violent Future demo tape is ruthlessly authoritative, peddling an unruly Negative Approach flavoured broth of banging Hardcore Punk. The six songs on offer here are spat out incredibly confidently, with real attention paid to writing rolling, at times perky Hardcore songs. Negative FX's 'Feel Like A Man' is an obvious stepping stone. A big nod to 86 Mentality and scattered Wasted Time influence ties in with a real love for the sensible side of DYS.

Favourite demo I've heard since the break of 2012.

Violent Future - Demo

- Josh

Salvation - House of The Beating Hell

Had this on heavy rotation for almost two weeks now, in which time it's crept up my mental ranking list of Youth Attack releases to perch somewhere between the Raw Nerve full length and the holiest of holies - Cult Ritual's '1st' LP.

'House of The Beating Hell' is Salvation's fourth (correct me if I'm wrong) effort on Youth Attack, and for me it serves as a hallmark of how well black metal sensations can mortise with the traditions of hardcore punk. Remarkable in it's own right for hedging the turning tide of a label devoutly rooted in the thick grunts of Hardcore and the scrappily blasted endeavours of ex-Orchid members.

I'm not a fan of the blackened shrieking-in-a-cave vocal din, I notoriously dislike most Black Metal influenced records - It took me a great deal of time to absorb the Sexdrome full length and I havn't even touched on the great wealth of 'real black metal' out there - but Matthew Adis' impassioned racket on '.. Beating Hell' coagulates so well with the clot of orbiting guitar lines and the utterly pin-point drumming that I can't help but concede to having my mind changed.

I had a big debate with fellow writer Thom over the black metal vs hardcore punk anatomy of this release. Thom is fully embroiled in all things black metal, black punk and corrosively noisey, so when he listens to '.. Beating Hell' he sees all the drum fills, riff parts and structural tweaks where Salvation havn't ticked the Black Metal box. It's different for a wildly obsessive Hardcore fan like myself, because I instantly pick up on the vocals, the cold ringing guitars and the challenging drum patterns that make most 80's punk drumming look like child's play. For me the Black Metal influence is savagely apparent, but you'll have to make your own mind's up about that.

Track two, 'Intake' is my pick of the crop. Urgent, unhinged, maniacal, laced with dread with no unecessary disharmonious driftwood in sight. The unerring drum parts of 'Tethered Man' steal the show as Adis collapses into a seething eddy of screeching, reappearing for the last orders of 'Twice The Vision' - a debilitating round off to a record that plays on pace and accuracy without forgoing raw, unrefined punk side of their blade.

I think the core reason why I'm spinning this record so much is the fact that Salvation have worked with diligence to produce a front of originality. A lot of the guitaring looks towards Darkthrone for prompts, and the structure maintains a grasp of relatively traditional punk lore, yet the whole thing sounds so young, so emergent - as if the next year or two will see an explosion of dark punk music makers waxing rhapsodic about this Philadelphia band's offerings. This is up there with the best releases I've heard so far this year.

Salvation - House of The Beating Hell

- Josh

Friday, 16 March 2012

An interview with RUNNY

Runny are a mercurial group of Brooklynites playing dramatic, sexually deviant punk rock straight out of the Dwarves / Poison Idea archive, all the while channeling a Gibby Haynes lust for naked mayhem. I can't help but love them. I want to bus their drinks and drugs around the practice room while they wail about all things cheap and mind altering.

How we managed to get this interview is beyond me. You can download their latest record 'We've Come For Your Women (And Some Of Your Men) for free from their site. Get it here

What were the beginnings of Runny like? Have you all played in bands before?

Lemon Cookie: Runny started in 1993 and has been through a million changes... we've always been a punk rock mess, but it's manifested itself in a number of different ways: It's been a DJ / Guitar act, an acoustic & wig-based mess, a CD-player performance art thing (that sucked), and its current version. Everyone has played in a ton of other bands - right now, Colonel Cream & Cracker Dap playing in The Whores and Cupcake plays in the Pioneers of Seduction.

Colonel Cream: In 2008 Cracker Dap and I were kidnapped, drugged, and put through a Runny re-education program. When we came to we discovered we were the rhythm section of Runny. It's been downhill since. Won't someone please help us?!

LC: Easy there, Colonel. Help is on the way.

Kidnapping and re-education programs aside, you all seem rather connected on a personal level, what with the sweet tooth nicknames and the shared sense of humour.. is that an important part of the band's ethos?

LC: The only ethos we have is to have fun together. We're only in this for good times, bad drugs, groupies & groupers. The names are just to protect our real identities!

CC: It's true. We're only in this for fun and cheap sex. In all seriousness though, I love my 'mates so much. This is just our excuse for getting together several nights a week, drinking, and shredding our vocal chords on lyrics like 'I JUST WANNA FUCK'. It's quite satisfying.

Is it important to you to be identified as a New York band?

CC: Actually, I'm not sure New York would like to be associated with us. We recently received a cease and desist letter from the NYC District Attorney ordering us to remove any mention of this fine town from any band promotional materials. This interview doesn't count because it appears in the UK, right?

LC: Yeah fuck those guys… That's why we don't want to be identified as a New York band, even though we're all from Brooklyn and its tough not to be influenced by all the amazing bands we get to be around. Hey Colonel, how's my grammar been lately?

CC: Terrible as usual.

LC: I blame that on New York.

Yeah, well, I am the UK arm of this blog, the other half is ran from Los Angeles. The New York scene is considered by many cognoscenti to be one of the strongest scenes going right now, particularly the hot mess of sounds coming out of Brooklyn, so despite your rejection (or NYC's rejection of you) do you not feel an affiliation with say, The Men, Crazy Spirit, and the others?

LC: Actualy, Bob Johnson from Scenic just played me The Men the other... it's good stuff. But we're more in JD Samson's band MEN.

CC: There are some mind blowing bands out here right now. "Don't" is one of my new favorites. Also love Bugs in the Dark and of course our cousins, the Naked Heroes. Yeah… New York City is like no place on earth. It's still magic to me.

I can't imagine what the recording sessions must have been like. Is it all fun and games or is there a definite overriding sense of seriousness?

LC: George was insistent that we go into the studio fully rehearsed so we can bang out the tracks. So the first day was fairly professional. The day of the mix I got so drunk that I could barely stand up. That wasn't so professional.

CC: George and Alap were just amazing, total pros. It was the best experience I've had recording so far. I can't say I ever felt too serious though...hard to when you're banging like hell on the drums and screaming about sucking on the wrong dick.

Sexual deviancy aside, what are the root influences for this project?

LC: Sexual deviancy really is 90% of it. Also, social anxiety & a complete disdain for actually knowing how to play our instruments. Bands wise, though - we worship a ton of different stuff: Swans, Melvins, The Dwarves, Future of the Left... And, like, we just played with this band Agitator who were fucking amazing.

CC: If you listen close, you'll hear the influence of Mahler and Debussy in my drumming. Poor guys are spinning in their graves.

'We've come for your women..' is a total slab of punk rock, but with a glossy, well produced veneer. Is this something you were conscious about when recording?

LC: Nope! Our good friends George Michael Jackson from the Naked Heroes produced it and Alap Momin from Dalek engineered it. Both those guys know what they are doing and what they wanted it to sound like and we trusted them. We recorded and mixed in two days and came out with that fury.

CC: Recording that album was one of the most intensely pleasurable experiences I've ever had. I found new levels of scream and have George Michael and Lemon Cookie to thank for that. It was quite a three-way. Please don't tell George's wife. Looking forward to our next trip back to the studio...

What are you all listening to right now? Give us a rundown of what's had most turntable time for you guys.

LC: I've been on a grind kick lately... Baptists, All Pigs Must Die, Nails. But I dig that new Ceremony record and then mellow shit like Dntel or Gil Scott-Heron. And I love that Kendrick Lamar record from last year.

CC: I am obsessed with Harvey Milk, Chokebore, and again, Future of the Left. If their drummer is reading this...I have plans for you.

Ceremony are friends of ours so I'll pass on the compliments. Do you ever see yourselves moving away from the sound you've honed now? Or is it all about perfecting the racket and doubling up on the sexual innuendo?

LC: We're gonna go where we are gonna go. There is no destination. And all the shit that's being written now is slow and dark. Less party, more hangover... Hey Colonel, that could be a new album title!

CC: That idea sucks, dude. But to your question, Josh, every once in a while a weird & mournful groove comes out. We've even been known to make a jazz noise.

LC: Yes and it's usually when I hold the mic to my ass and fart real loud.

Do you ever see yourself taking this show on the road? I'm sure Europe would welcome you guys with open arms

LC: All I want to do is get back on the road. We were in Spain in September and it was the best fucking time ever. Anyone who wants to bring us over, feel free to holler.

CC: DYING to go back to Europe on tour. Spain was incredible. And we want to come to the UK! I've been tested and my doctor says I'm now cleared. Get ready, because we really are coming for your women. And some of your men.

Haha, the UK would be down for Runny. I'm curious as to what kind of bill you guys feel comfortable playing on.. is it a case of curbing the mosh on the more hardcore flavoured line-ups or do you get the chance to play with more like-minded late 70's orientated punk rockers?

LC: Weirdly enough, our best shows are with bands that don't share our sound. Our best shows have been with metal bands or hiphop acts or jazz quintets, or with the aforementioned Naked Heroes. Strange how that works.

CC: So true! But our favorite crowds are the ones that are comfortable getting naked and piling up on the floor in front of the stage.

LC: And preferably on drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.

- Josh

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Memorial Voice - Ne Veux Plus Vivre

Memorial Voice were a band who seamlessly straddled the line between cutting and caustic coldwave, and the harsher tonal qualities of post-punk.
Often being referred to as 'street punk', this was a band who took cues from fellow European crust and UK82 acts, and infused them with their post-punk sensibilities.
Releasing this sole recorded under the name Memorial Voice, before briefly switching to the moniker Ctakaho√ł SS, and then Stakanov SS for their final two EPs - this band has unfortunatley left behind little to no legacy.
A crying shame, considering "Ne Veux Plus Vivre" is arguably one of the most refreshing and enjoyable post-punk records to ever see the light of day.
This nine track tribute to all things bleak and resentful opens and closes on a familiar tone, while mourning its own misery with piss and vigor in between.
I wish I could say more, because this band, and this record, deserve such songs of praise - but I'd only offer a disservice, and such great music speaks for itself.
This is a post-punk record for those who prefer the suffix.

Memorial Voice - "Ne Veux Plus Vivre"

- Thom.

Slices - Still Cruising

Posing alongside cars for album covers sounds way more 'lackluster R&B moron' than 'caustic Pittsburgh punk band', but once you sink into the noise-fog of a Slices record, you quickly recognise the cover art as one great big ironicstatement.jpg - there merely to sort the wheat from the chaff and to pinch back the title of 'most ridiculous album art' from those pesky Australians in Total Control.

The new LP 'Still Cruising' follows on from last year's debilitatingly good 'Cruising', a gnarled, gristly pop at writing Wolf Eyes on a Jesus Lizard trip hardcore. Out on Iron Lung records, 'Still Cruising' reboots the Medusa / Nightmare Man template of 'Cruising', and hip thrusts into selections of the more soberly written Butthole Surfers back catalogue. The band spoke about mimicking some of the guitar sounds from In Utero, which begs the question of how much Albini influence managed to permeate into the ethos behind this new LP.

The track 'Greensleeves' lords it over most of side A's efforts with it's rumbling groove of Pissed Jeans fan friendly noise punk. 'Why Do You Make Yourself Sad?' plays like '1000 Hurts' era Shellac dancing down hard on the grave of sacred Deep Wound of Massachusetts.

Rock n' Roll is Still Cruising's game. Taking more influence from eminent sources rather than the fucking Wanky's or something. 'All My Life' is a borderline foot-off-the-gas-pedal 90's druggy post-hardcore type excursion, just with grizzlier vocals than Walter Schriefels could ever shake a stick at. Do you have the stones to slow-dance to this half-waltzer?

Despite the more obvious lineage, this record evades neat classification. By refining the lugubrious nature of 'Cruising' into this fat-trimmed, needle-pointed punk thumper, Slices have pushed themselves further out to sea. They now have more in common with fellow Pennsylvanians Kim Phuc than ever before, as the Throbbing Gristle elements of 2004's Do U Like Mud are all but a fond memory.

Still Cruising is a marked progression, and a natural one at that. Who would begrudge these fellows the chance to write in earnest? The two Mikes, Greg and John have put together a more than confident batch of songs here, talking up the appeal of accessibility and the benefits of leaning on conventionality from time to time.

Listen to the entire record here

- Josh