Category: punk rock

Last month, I wrote about the Sudbury, Ontario, Canada-based punk act Tommy and the Commies, and as you may recall, the band, which is comprised of  Jeff Houle, best known as the creative master mind of Strange Attractor; Jeff’s brother Mitch, with whom he’s played in power pop act STATUES; and frontman Tommy Commy can trace their origins to when Commy dragged Jeff Houle into a punk rock venue bathroom stall to play an inaudible demo on his phone. And as the story goes. the Houles decided to collaborate with Commy, after being impressed by his vocals.

The trio’s full-length debut, Here Come .  .  . is slated for release later this month through Slovenly Records, and “Devices,” the album’s first single revealed a band that specializes in a furious and blistering mod punk that recalls power pop and  The Ramones on speed,  while centered by an incisive criticism of our addictive obsessions with our electronic devices. “Suckin’ In Your 20s” the Canadian trio’s latest single off their full-length debut continues in a similar vein as its predecessor as its an angular bit of breakneck power pop-influenced punk with enormous, rousing hooks that manages to be reminiscent of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO-era DEVO; in fact, the song seems underpinned by an anxious nihilism that evokes our socioeconomic moment.

 

 

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New Video: Introducing the Breezy and Anthemic Surf Punk of Australia’s Skegss

With the release of last year’s Holiday Food EP, which featured “Spring Has Sprung” and “Got On My Skateboard,” the Bryon Bay, Australia-based trio Skegss, comprised of Ben Reed (vocals, guitar), Toby Cregan (bass) and Johnny Lani (drums) won national and international attention for a sunny, anthemic take on surf punk — and for ripping and energetic live sets. Interestingly, the band has received praise from Clash Magazine, who recently included them in this year’s “Best Punk Bands Come From Australia” feature, and as a result of the growing buzz around them, the Bryon Bay-based trio have been playing bigger and bigger shows across the UK and Australia — and have their sights set Stateside. 

The up-and-coming Aussie band’s full-length debut My Own Mess was released yesterday through and so far the album has been a massive commercial success: as of this writing, bum single “Up in the Clouds” has become the 10th most-played on commercial speciality radio, and in their native Australia, the album has recached #1 on the iTunes Alternative chart and #4 overall. And from the album’s latest single “Stop,” I’m not surprised, as the band specializes in breakneck, sugary sweet, power pop-influenced punk centered around infectious shout along hooks, fuzzy power chords and a youthful sense of abandon that recalls early FIDLAR — but with an eye back towards what you did the night before, understanding that usually at some point, the partying and bullshitting will eventually lead to soul-crushing day jobs, dreadful routines and adult obligations. 

The recently released video features the members of Skegss goofing around with a Stop/Slow sign as responsible adults look at them with suspicion and confusion. May the video serve as a reminder of how much we really shouldn’t aim to be so serious that we’ve forgotten what mischief feels like — or that we should always have some fun somewhere. 

Comprised of Orville Neely III (guitar, vocals),  Aniel Fried (drums) and Gregory Rutherford (bass), the Denton, TX/Austin, TX-based trio Bad Sports features some of their home state’s most accomplished musicians — Neely is the frontman of OBN IIIs, while Fried and Rutherford have played together in Video and Radioactivity. Interestingly, the trio’s fourth full-length album Constant Stimulation is slated for an October 29, 2018 release through their longtime label home Dirtnap Records, and the album, which finds the trio celebrating their tenth anniversary together, also reportedly finds the band pushing their sound and songwriting in a new, more mature direction, centered by a leaner, tense production meant to evoke a decided sense of frustration and world-weariness.

Constant Stimulation‘s first single “Don’t Deserve Love” continues in the power chord-based punk vein that won the trio attention across the blogosphere but there’s a decided power pop leaning with their deliberate and thoughtful attention to crafting crowd pleasing hooks — but where their previously released material was the sort of stuff you’d shotgun beers to in your favorite dive bar, there’s a subtle acknowledgement of the fact that a world and civilization inching towards its annihilation will force you to put down the childish concerns of one’s youth and grow up a bit, all while still knocking you on your ass. Interestingly, the track may be the most personal one they’ve written in quite some time, as its fueled by a crippling self-doubt and insecurity that hide an adult vulnerability; the sort of vulnerability in which you’d freely admit that life can make you a broken and fucked up person — but a survivor all the time.

 

 

 

Comprised of Lucy Jowett (vocals), Joe Clarke (guitar) and Jacob Marston (drums), the up-and-coming Leeds, UK-based art punk trio Dead Naked Hippies formed back in 2016 and since their formation they’ve received praise from BBC Introducing, KCRWDIYClashDORK Magazine, Metro and PRS Magazine for a face melting take on art rock and art punk centered. Adding to a growing profile, the Leeds-based trio have shared stages with Dream Wife, IDLES, Queen Zee and DZ Deathrays, and have played at Live at Leeds and last year’s Leeds Festival.

The trio’s latest single “Rare” will further cement their growing reputation for crafting blistering and furious punk rock centered around a pummeling and angular guitar line, thumping and forceful four-on-the-floor drumming, and a shout along in a sweaty mosh pit worthy hook; but at the core of the song is a rebellious and cathartic rallying yell. As the band’s Jowett explains in press notes, It is a song about self love. I think we’re quick to judge the term & deem it laughable or irrelevant in fear of being arrogant, or weird. But if you take a hard look at the society we live in, it’s clear to see why so many people struggle to feel content in their own minds and their own bodies. I’ve always struggled with myself and it sickens me to think that so many other people feel the same. It needs to change.

“We’re used by advertising companies, so they can make money out of our discontentment. Bombarded with images of fake realities, only to make us feel like ours isn’t enough. We’re made to feel like our creativity and passion will never be as important as serving a functional purpose in society. It’s dull, boring and I’m fucking mad about it. Most importantly, I want people to know that they’re not alone.”

 

Comprised of founding members Wes Salton (guitar, vocals) and Jason Chiarella (bass, synths) with Adam Reeve (drums, vocals) and Jack Faulkner (guitar, synths), the Nashville, TN-based post-punk quartet Telefones can trace their origins to when its founding members started the band while they were both high schoolers in Atlanta. Later, Salton and Chiarella relocated to Nashville, where they met Faulker and Reeve, who joined the band to flesh out its sound and complete its lineup.  Sonically, the band draws influence from the likes of Fugazi, The Modern Lovers and Buzzcocks — and from “Castle Factory,” the A-side single off their forthcoming “Castle Factory”/”Vitamins”  7 inch, the band specializes in a blistering and raw, garage punk that would make John Dwyer proud while recalling The Stooges and others.

 

 

 

 

Comprised of multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Timo Ellis, who has recorded and played with the likes of Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto, John Zorn, Melvins, Gibby Haynes, Ween, Joan As Police Woman, Spacehog, White Hills and others, and has released over 25 wildly varied solo albums as TE and other pseudonyms; Ava Farber (synthbass), Joel “Moon Daddy” Willis (drums) and Chealsea “Thee Chuq” Wierbonski (synthbass) the New York-based act NETHERLANDS since their formation back in 2008 have developed a firmly-held reputation for a maximalist approach that follows Ellis’ personal mission statement of making music that can be equally light-hearted, brutal and ecstatic centered around power chord led shredding, pummeling drumming, soaring vocals and madding hooks.

And while generally possessing a difficult to describe sound, the band which draws from heavy metal, arena rock, post-hardcore and math rock, the members of the New York-based act have played with a number of renowned acts across a variety of genres and styles including Napalm Death, Melt Banana, Mutoid Man, Yob, Black Flag, EYEHATEGOD, Candiria, Valient Thorr, Child Abuse, Mutilation Rites, Primitive Weapons, Freshkills, Vaz, Naam, Martin Rev, The Giraffes, The Death Set, BANGLADEAFY! DN’T, Unstoppable Death Machines, Mouth of the Architect, White Hills, Gull, Godmaker, Spacehog, The Austerity Program, No Way, Moon Tooth and Radkey.

​The New York-based act’s Black Gaia is slated for release this Friday through Records and Tapes Records, and from the album’s latest single “Army!,” the album will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting pummeling and furious material centered around equally enormous power chords and arena rock friendly hooks, distorted synthbass and Ellis’s shouting politically charged lyrics, lambasting rampant commercialism and greed — all while drawing from math rock, psych rock and thrash metal in a way that reminds me of Cinemechanica. Arguably, this song may be one for the most explosive and forceful rippers I’ve heard all year, and it’s so fucking necessary.

NETHERLANDS will be touring with Mastodon and Dinosaur Jr. throughout September. Check out the tour dates below.

Mastodon, Dinosaur Jr, Netherlands – 2018 tour:
Sep 1 – Edmonton, AB @ Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Sep 2 – Calgary, AB @ Grey Eagle Resort & Casino
Sep 4 – Saskatoon, SK @ O’Brian’s Event Centre
Sep 6 – Winnipeg, MB @ Burton Cummings Theatre
Sep 7 – Duluth, MN @ Duluth Heritage Center
Sep 8 – Sioux City, IA @ Anthem @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Sep 11 – Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Ballroom
Sep 12 – Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
Sep 14 – Fort Wayne, IN @ Clyde Theatre
Sep 15 – Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe Live
Sep 16 – London, ON @ London Concert Theatre
Sep 17 – Kitchener, ON @ Elements
Sep 19 – Hamilton, ON @ FirstOntario Concert Hall
Sep 20 – Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theatre
Sep 21 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore

 

Comprised of Jeff Houle, best known as the creative master mind of Strange Attractor; Jeff’s brother Mitch, with whom he’s played in power pop act STATUES; and frontman Tommy Commy, the Sudbury, Ontario, Canada-based punk act Tommy and the Commies can trace their origins to when Commy dragged Jeff Houle into a punk rock venue bathroom stall to play an inaudible demo on his phone. And as the story goes. the Houles decided to collaborate with Commy, after being impressed by his vocals.

The trio’s full-length debut, Here Come .  .  . is slated for a September 28, 2018 release through Slovenly Records, and the album’s first and latest single “Devices” reveals a band that specializes in furious and blistering mod punk centered around angular power chords, a propulsive backbreat and an infectious,  pop-like, shout worthy hook that brings to mind both power pop and The Ramones on speed; but underneath is an incisive criticism of how people are constantly attached to their electronic devices, to the detriment of getting to know someone next to them or to even enjoy the moment.

New Audio: Acclaimed Act Thrice Releases An Anthemic Prog Rock-like Single

Comprised of founding members Dustin Kensrue (vocals, guitar) and Teppei Teranishi (guitar) with siblings Eddie Breckenridge (bass) and Riley Breckenridge (drums), the Irvine, CA-based rock band Thrice can trace their origins to its founding members meeting in high school and playing in a local band Chapter 11. When it came to starting their own project, Kensrue and Teranishi recruited Teranishi’s skate park buddy Eddie Breckenridge to play bass, and Breckenridge then brought his brother Riley to play drums, completing the band’s lineup. As the story goes, before their first show they realized that they needed name, and hard-pressed, they decided on going with Thrice, an inside joke between the bandmembers out of desperation. Although they had intended the name to be a temporary one, they began to gain fans and people started to associate them with it, so they were forced to stay with it.

In 1999, the band released the First Impressions EP, which was recorded during a twos-day session at A-Room Studios with Brian Tochilin. Only 1,000 copies were made and the individual bandmembers sold them out of their cars. Working with Death by Stereo’s Paul Miner, the Irvine, CA-based quartet recorded 12 tracks, which eventually became their 2000 full-length debut Identity Crisis, which was released through Greenflag Records. A portion of the album’s proceeds were donated to Crittenton Services for Children and Family, and with growing local buzz, the quartet caught the interest of Hopeless/Sub City’s Louis Posen, who eventually signed the band, and reissued Identity Crisis. To support the album the band toured with the likes of Samiam, Midtown and Hot Rod Circuit.

February 2002 saw the release of the band’s Brian McTernan-produced Hopeless/Sub City debut, The Illusion of Safety. Much like its predecessor, the band donated a portion of the album’s proceeds to a non-profit youth shelter in South Central Los Angeles, A Place Called Home, with the label matching all donations. The album received generally positive reviews and after tours opening for Further Seems Forever and Face to Face, followed by their first headlining tour, Thrice won the attention of several major labels, including Island Records, who signed the band, after agreeing to match the band’s charitable donations in the same fashion as Hopeless/Sub City. After signing with Island Records, the band toured with Hot Water Music and Coheed and Cambria before returning to the studio.

Interestingly with the release of 2002’s Illusion of Safety and 2003’s The Artist in the Ambulance, the band developed a reputation for a fast and punishing math rock-like sound centered around heavily distorted power chords, rapid time signature changes; however, with 2005’s Vheissu, the members of Thrice began incorporating synths, electronic beats and a much more experimental approach to their songwriting that continued through 2007 and 2008 with the release of The Alchemy Index, two albums that actually consisted of a 4-part, 24 song cycle, with each of the four 6-song EPs featuring significantly different styles based on the classical elements of fire, water, air and earth both lyrically and musically. 2009’s Beggars and 2011’s Major/Minor found the band continuing to refine their experimentation and exploration of their sound; but after the release of Major/Minor, Thrice announced a final tour and a hiatus.

In 2015, Kensrue and Teranishi decided to reform the band, and by the following year, they released their first album in four years, 2016’s To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere.  Slated for a September 14, 2018 release through Epitaph Records, the band’s tenth full-length album Palms is their second post-reunion album, and the album which was co-produced by the band and Eric Palmquist reportedly finds the band’s sound encompassing everything from post-hardcore to piano-driven ballads, making it arguably the most sonically expansive album of their careers to date. Interestingly, the album’s latest single, the prog rock-like mid-tempo “Only Us” is centered around pulsating synths, enormous power chord-led guitar riffs, an arena rock friendly hook and Kensrue’s plaintive and earnest vocals. As the band’s Dusin Kensrue explains in press notes. “‘Only Us’ came from thinking about how easily we’re so divided into ‘us’ and ‘them’ when really we have an inherent ability to care for those in our group, and the parameters for who falls into that group are extremely flexible. It’s about how the things that we think separate us are actually inconsequential, and if we could broaden the idea of ‘us’ to include all people, it would help us build a more loving and civil society. “

Earlier this summer,  I wrote about the Stockholm, Sweden-based garage punk outfit Sudakistan, and as you may recall, the band has a unique backstory: Comprised of Michell Serrano (vocals), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Carlos Amigo (percussion) Juan Jose Espindola (drums) and Arvid Sjöö (guitar), the band features one native Swede — Sjöö — while the the other members emigrated from South America. And with the the release of their furious and incendiary full-length debut Caballo Negro, the Stockholm-based quartet quickly received attention for a sound that meshes Latin music — in particular, Latin rhythm, percussion and groove that’s part of the musical and cultural heritage of Serrano, Gonzalez, Amigo and Espiondola — with the blistering garage rock and punk of Thee Oh Sees, At the Drive-In and Death from Above 1979.

Swedish Cobra, the band’s forthcoming Daniel Bengtson-produced sophomore album is slated for a September 7, 2018 release, and the album reportedly finds the band capturing their raw and raucous live sound on record — with the five bandmembers recording in the same room, live to tape at Bengtson’s Studio Rymden, and with minimal takes and overdubs. As the band’s Michell Serrano says in press notes, “You can hear that on the album. it’s quite raw and very intense.” Interestingly, the material balances blistering fury with an experimental sensibility with the band expanding upon their sound — partially as a result of each individual band member’s role becoming more fluid, and partially through the employment of instrumentation beyond the usual punk rock/garage rock arrangements. “It was much more of a collaboration between the five of us,” Serrano explains. “Things flowed differently. Carlos sings on two or three songs, and Mikael sings on one. We swapped instruments quite a lot, and because we had access to everything in the studio, we were able to use some piano, some acoustic guitar and some mandolin, too.”

Lyrically speaking, the album is purportedly the most personal they’ve written to date — and although it’s not overtly political charged, the material does focus on their day-to-day reality, from partying excessively to moments of deep introspection, with each individual member contributing idea. “Our first album was made over five years, rather than five months, so the themes on it weren’t as heavy as this. Now, we’re talking about a lot of the things that we’ve gone through together since we started the band, as well as personal things – like, why do I keep repeating the same mistakes. We talk about pursuing our own Swedish reality, but that’s just because we’re living in Sweden – it’s relatable in any other country, I think,” Maikel Gonzalez says in press notes.

Swedish Cobra‘s first two singles, the furious and swirling psych punk/surf punk “Whiplash” and the mid-tempo, 90s grunge rock-inspired “Two Steps Back,” were urgent and passionate — but to me there was something sobering about the material, especially in light of a heightened age of nationalism, racism and xenophobia. Cultural exchange has inspired new takes on the familiar, new modes of thinking, new foods, new words — and more importantly, deeper empathy and understanding of our neighbors, of those men women and others from far away.  Interestingly, “Last Love Supreme,” Swedish Cobra‘s latest single is a swooning mid-tempo ballad with soaring hooks and explosive blasts of feedback that sounds — to my ears at least — as though it drew from mariachi, psych rock and garage rock simultaneously, thanks in part to a classic quiet, loud, quiet song structure.

Certainly, from the album’s first three singles, Swedish Cobra may arguably be one of the year’s most unique, passionate and downright interesting albums, and possibly one of the most necessary of any genre, because it affirms what can happen when diverse people and ideas intermingle and influence each other, and perhaps more important that we should protect and honor the immigrant and what they bring.

 

 

Over the past month, I’ve managed to write a bit about the Austin, TX-based trio Exhalants, and as you may recall the band which features Steve (guitar, vocals), Bill (bass) and Tommy (drums), a member of Body Pressure, can trace its origins to the breakup of Steve and Bill’s previous band  Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes. With the inevitable downtime that happens when a band breaks up, Steve spent his free time further honing his guitar playing before recruiting his former CSSS bandmate and Tommy to complete the project’s lineup.

Exhalants’ selff-titled debut is slated for release next week, and the soon-to-be released album is largely inspired by ShellacUnwound and Cherubs, while nodding at the work of contemporaries like MelkbellyKal Marks and A Dear A Horse — or in other words, the album’s material finds the band balancing pummeling heaviness with an infectious melodicism; however, the album’s third and latest single “If Only” is a slow-burning grunge-era inspired dirge, centered around pummeling drumming, distortion-fed power chords, howled vocals and an alternating quiet-loud-quiet song structure. Sonically, the new single seems to recall Melvins, Soundgarden, Nirvana and Alice in Chains while maintaining their uncanny sense of melody.  And from the album’s first three singles, Exhalants may be releasing one of the hardest hitting albums of the year.