Category: punk rock

New Audio: Acclaimed Norwegian Act Pom Poko Release an Exuberant and Breakneck New Single

Deriving their name from one of the more outre films ever released by Japanese animation studio Studio Ghibli, Pom Poko is a rising Norwegian quartet — Ragnhild Fangel (vocals), Martin Miguel Tonne (guitar), Jonas Krøvel (bass) and Ola Djupvik (drums) — that can trace their origins back to 2016 when the members of the band met while they were studying jazz at Trondheim Music Conservatory, and bonded over their desire to play punk rock at a jazz gig at a literature festival.

Interestingly, the individual members of the rising Norwegian act have publicly cited a wide and eclectic array of influences on their sound and approach, including Oumou Sangare, Ali Farka Toure, Vulfpeck, Palm, KNOWER, Hella, Death Grips, Jenny Hval and Nick Drake among others. And as a result, the act has managed to establish a sound and approach that defies easy description or categorization. “We’ve all done lots of improvised music in the past, and I think that shapes the way we play, even though the tunes are not improvised,” the band explained in press notes. “We like when new and strange things happen in an old song, and that music can change over time by being played live, because that removes predictability and the ‘recipe’ that some genres of music have.”

Last year’s full-length debut Birthday received praise from the likes of Interview Magazine, The Line of Best Fit, The Independent, Clash Magazine, DIY Magazine and NME, who picked the band as one of the acts to watch out for in 2019 — and with the breakneck “My Blood,” a track that possessed elements of math rock, punk rock and indie rock was a great example of their wildly inventive, exuberant sound. Adding to a breakthrough year, the band also received airplay on BBC Radio 6 while landing Norwegian Grammy (Spellemannprisen) Award and Nordic Music Prize nods.

Building upon the momentum of last year, the Norwegian quartet’s highly-anticipated Marcus Forsgren-produced sophomore album Cheater is slated for a November 6, 2020 release through Bella Union Records. Written during the same period that produced one-off singles like “Leg Day” and “Praise,” Cheater finds the band further establishing the sound that has won them national and international acclaim — but the major difference between the two is that Cheater’s material wasn’t road-tested before the band went into the studio.”That meant we had to practice the songs in a more serious way, but it also meant the songs had more potential to change when we recorded them since we didn’t have such a clear image of what each song should/could be as the last time,” Pom Poko’s Ragnhild Fangel explains.

“I think it’s very accurate to say that we wanted to embrace our extremes a bit more. In the production process, I think we aimed more for some sort of contrast between the meticulously written and arranged songs and a more chaotic education and recording but also let ourselves explore the less frantic part of the Pom Poko universe,” Fangel says of the differences between Birthday and Cheater. “I think both in the more extreme and painful way, and in the sweet and lovely way, this album is kind of amplified.”

Cheater’s latest single “My Candidacy” finds the act managed to walk a tightrope between breakneck mosh pit friendly punk, centered around enormous power chords and saccharine sweet verses. Featuring the classic grunge rock alternating loud, quiet, loud song structure, the song explodes with an unpredictable, brash and girlish coquettishness while evoking the swooning rush of love. According to the band “the song itself is about the wish to be able to believe in unconditional love, even though you know that there probably is no such thing. We, at least, believe in unconditional love for riffy tunes with sing-song choruses.”

New Audio: Memphis’ Optic Sink Releases a Tense and Neurotic New Single

Optic Sink — Nots’ Natalie Hoffmann and Ben Bauermeister — is a Memphis-based act that specializes in a genre-defying sound that morphs from cold wave to psychedelia to distorted noise rock, often within the same song. Thematically and sonically, the duo fragment and reassemble sounds, concepts and verbal constructs while attempting to find beauty in the journey despite what the final resolution may be.

The duo’s self-titled debut is slated for an October 2, 2020 release through Goner Records — and the album’s second and latest single “Exhibitionist” is a tense and minimalist track centered around arpeggiated synths and chintzy Casio-like metronomic beats paired with Hoffmann’s insouciant delivery. And at its core, is an uncertain and neurotic narrator, who’s rightfully a bit paranoid. “From the pressure to constantly commodify yourself, market yourself, appear to be a certain thing –– the BEST thing –– on social media, to the cold machine eye on the other side that is always watching, taking notes, fitting all of us neatly into its algorithm, and selling this idea of the best version of ourselves back to us,” Optic Sink’s Hoffman explains. “And the overwhelming evidence is that we’re buying it, but what are we actually paying for it?”

New Video: Hot Snakes Release a Hilarious and Hallucinogenic Visual for Anthemic “Not in Time”

Over the past couple of years, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the acclaimed — and downright legendary — punk act Hot Snakes. Continuing upon the momentum of 2018’s Jericho Sirens, the band released the “Checkmate”/”Not in Time” 7 inch late last year as the first of a series of four 7 inch singles released to lead up to the JOVM mainstay act’s highly-awaited fifth album.

The physical copies of “Checkmate”/”Not in Time” were sold only at shows during their UK tour to close out 2019 — and as you may recall, Sub Pop released, the sleazy AC/DC-like “Checkmate,” digitally through all DSPs. And until — well, today, the B-side “Not In Time” was unavailable anywhere else. “Not in Time” is essentially classic Hot Snakes: rousingly anthemic and euphoric hooks, pummeling guitar riffs, thunderous drumming and howled vocals. Goddamn it, I miss loud rock shows and sweaty mosh pits — because this one is a mosh pit anthem.

“Not in Time” will be available on Hot Snakes’ Bandcamp page tomorrow at Pay-Whatever-the-Hell-You-Want pricing for Friday only, as part of Bandcamp’s ongoing monthly fundraisers to generate funds for artists unable to tour as a result of the pandemic.

Directed by Jessica Kourkounis (Jason Kourkounis’ sister), the recently released video is a hilarious and hallucinogenic visual that follows a crew of skateboarders, who during an afternoon of wholesome shredding take tabs of Hot Snakes-branded acid and suddenly strange things happen — mainly, they see their arms elongate as they continue skating.
“This video started with a basic idea I had, which was, wouldn’t it be funny to see a bunch of skater dudes try and shred with extra-long arms” Jessica Kourkounis explains. “I have a bit of an obsession with homemade-looking costumes. So I hit up my friend Brian Emig to see if he would help me find the guys and film them. The rest happened pretty organically. We just went out and did it mostly. I also wanted to somehow include a visual of the band so I asked Rick to draw their heads so I could print them on blotter paper to help move the story forward. To great relief, it all worked out.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays METZ Return with a Pummeling Meditation on Compromise and Adulthood

Over the course of this site’s 10 year history, I’ve managed to spill copious amounts of virtual ink covering Toronto-based punk trio and JOVM mainstays METZ. The JOVM mainstays fourth album Atlas Vending is slated for an October 9, 2020 release through their longtime label home Sub Pop Records. Their previously released material found the band thriving on an abrasive relentlessness but before they set to work on Atlas Vending‘s material, the Canadian punk trio set a goal for themselves and for the album — that they were going to make a much more patient and honest album, an album that invited repeated listens rather than a few exhilarating mosh-pit friendly bludgeonings. Co-produced by Uniform’s Ben Greenberg and mastered by Seth Manchester at Pawtucket’s Machines with Magnets, the album finds the band crafting music for the long haul, with the hopes that their work could serve as a constant as they (and the listener) navigated life’s trials and tribulations.

The end result is an album that reportedly retains the massive sound that has won them attention and hearts across the world — but while arguably being their most articulate, earnest and dynamic of their growing catalog. Thematically, the album covers disparate yet very adult themes: paternity, crushing social anxiety, addiction, isolation, media-induced paranoia and the restless urge to just say “Fuck this!” and leave it all behind.  Much like its predecessor, Altas Vending offers a snapshot of the the modern condition as they see it; however, each of the album’s ten songs were written to form a musical and narrative whole with the album’s song sequencing following a cradle-to-grave trajectory. And as a result, the album’s material runs through the gamut of emotions — from the most rudimentary and simple of childhood to the increasingly nuanced and turbulent peaks and valleys of adulthood. So in some way, the album find the band tackling what’s inevitable for all of us — getting older, especially in an industry seemingly suspended in youth. “Change is inevitable if you’re lucky,” METZ’s Alex Eadkins says of the band’s fourth album Atlas Vending. “Our goal is to remain in flux, to grow in a natural and gradual way. We’ve always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we’ve accomplished something that pushes us forward.”

So yes, their current mission is to mirror the inevitably painful struggles of adulthood while tapping into the conflicting relationship between rebellion and revelry — particularly in a period of seemingly profound and unending bleakness. Last month, I wrote about album closing track and first single “A Boat to Drown In.” And while continuing the band’s long-held reputation for crafting enormous and punishing aural assaults centered round layers of distortion fueled power chords, thunderous drumming and mosh pit-friendly hooks, the song finds them moving away from their grunge inferences and creating one of the most expansive, oceanic tracks they’ve released to date. 

Interestingly, the album’s second and latest single “Hail Taxi” is a deceptive return to form. Yes, it’s an enormous and urgent mosh pit friendly ripper, full of rousingly anthemic hooks, thunderous drumming and Eadkin’s howled vocals  — but at its core, the song is full of a aching and deeply adult sense of regret, as the song’s narrator attempt to reconcile who they once were and who they’ve become. After all, being an adult often means making uneasy and uncomfortable compromises; the sort of compromises that an idealistic younger version of you would likely hate and have little empathy for.  The end result is a howl of desperation, frustration and fury for what once was and what has to be right now — and for when things seemed simpler. 

Directed by A.F. Cortes, the recently released video for “Hail Taxi” was shot in a highly symbolic and cinematic black and white. The video captures and further emphasizes the song’s intensity in its pummeling choruses as we see a woman struggling to keep afloat in the open sea — and her brooding on a rowboat full of trash on the song’s verses. “I wanted to tell a simple story that captures the song’s overarching theme,” A.F. Cortes says of the video. “The idea of longing for the past creates many visual motifs and I wanted to create a piece that feels timeless and conveys a sense of isolation, highlighting that while we can hide our feelings, we can’t run from them.”

There’s an apocryphal tale of the The Stooges’ final show at the Goose Lake Festival that’s been told countless times in the 50 years since it happened: Dave  Alexander (bass), due to nerves or overindulgence in drugs or who knows, spaces out in front of 20,000 concertgoers. He doesn’t play a single note. Iggy Pop fires Alexander immediately after the show, and this particular moment, purportedly began the end of the legendary band. Although fans and critics have referenced the Goose Lake Festival set, there was no evidence of what actually happened — that is until recently, when a 1/4″ stereo two-track tape of the Goose Lake Festival set was found buried in the basement of  Michigan farmhouse among other analog artifacts of the era.
Recorded directly from the soundboard, the August 8, 1970 show is the only known soundboard recording of the band’s legendary founding lineup — and it was recorded just before the official release of their beloved 1970 album Fun House.  Restored by Vance Powell and mastered by Bill Skibbe, Third Man Records will be releasing this previously unheard and unreleased live recording on August 7, 2020 — almost 50 years to the day. The live album is revelatory because it sets the record straight on some things, essentially rewriting some of the band’s history: Alexander actually played his instrument throughout, and it captures the band, just before the release of Fun House.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s furious and sweaty live version of “T.V. Eye,” and continuing on that same theme, the album’s second and latest single is an explosive and unhinged rendition of album title track “Fun House.” Play it loud, y’all.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays METZ Releases an Explosive Meditation on Life. Loneliness, Delusion, and Death

Throughout the bulk of this site’s 10 year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering Toronto-based punk trio and JOVM mainstays METZ. With the release of their third album, 2017’s Strange Peace, the trio — Alex Eadkins (vocals, guitar), Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums) —  pushed their songwriting in a new direction, as they crafted some of their most personal and politically charged work with the material capturing the anxiety, uncertainty, fear and outrage of the 2016 election cycle. 

Last year, the JOVM mainstays released Automat, a collection of METZ’s non-album singles, B-sides and rarities dating back to 2009 on vinyl for the first time — including, the band’s long out-of-print (pre-Sub Pop) recordings. Essentially, the album was designed as chronological trip of the acclaimed Canadian act’s lesser-known material that included a bonus 7 inch single, which featured three covers: a cover of Sparklehorse’s “Pig” off a very limited 2012 Record Store Day split single, originally released by Toronto-based record store, Sonic Boom; a cover of The Urinals‘ “I’m a Bug” originally released on YouTube in 2014; and lastly, a previously unreleased, explosive  cover of Gary Numan’s “M.E.” 

The JOVM mainstays fourth album Atlas Vending is slated for an October 9, 2020 release through their longtime label home Sub Pop Records. Their previously released material found the band thriving on an abrasive relentlessness but before they set to work on Atlas Vending’s material, the Canadian punk trio set a goal for themselves and for the album — that they were going to make a much more patient and honest album, an album that invited repeated listens rather than a few exhilarating mosh-pit friendly bludgeonings. Co-produced by Uniform’s Ben Greennberg and mastered by Seth Manchester at Pawtucket’s Machines with Magnets, the album finds the band crafting music for the long haul, with the hopes that their work could serve as a constant as they navigated life’s trials and tribulations. 

The end result is an album that reportedly retains the massive sound that has won them attention and hearts across the world — but while arguably being their most articulate, earnest and dynamic of their growing catalog. Thematically, the album covers disparate yet very adult themes: paternity, crushing social anxiety, addiction, isolation, media-induced paranoia and the restless urge to just say “Fuck this!” and leave it all behind.  Much like its predecessor, Altas Vending offers a snapshot of the the modern condition as they see it; however, each of the album’s ten songs were written to form a musical and narrative whole with the album’s song sequencing following a cradle-to-grave trajectory. And as a result, the album’s material runs through the gamut of emotions — from the most rudimentary and simple of childhood to the increasingly nuanced and turbulent peaks and valleys of adulthood. So in some way, the album find the band tackling what’s inevitable for all of us — getting older, especially in an industry seemingly suspended in youth. “Change is inevitable if you’re lucky,” METZ’s Alex Eadkins says of the band’s fourth album Atlas Vending. “Our goal is to remain in flux, to grow in a natural and gradual way. We’ve always been wary to not overthink or intellectualize the music we love but also not satisfied until we’ve accomplished something that pushes us forward.” 

Interestingly, Atlas Vending closing track “A Boat to Drown In” is the album’s first single and while continuing the band’s long-held reputation for crafting enormous, aural assaults centered around layers of distortion fueled powered chords, thunderous drumming, a mosh pit friendly hook and Eadkins urgent and howled vocals. But unlike their previously released material, “A Boat to Drown In” finds the band moving away from their grunge influences with their most expansive track to date, a track that finds them at their most oceanic. According to Eadkins, “A Boat to Drown in.” is “. . . about leaving a bad situation behind. About overcoming obstacles that once held you back, rising above and looking to a better future. The title refers to immersing yourself fully into what you love and using it as a sanctuary from negativity and a catalyst for change.”

Directed by Tony Wolski, the incredibly cinematic visual for “A Boat to Drown In” follows a painfully lonely and isolated young woman’s slow-burning descent into delusion, — including a passionate affair  with an enormous (and frisky) teddy bear that we discover never existed. Eventually we pull out and see this woman turn from being emotionally broken to numb and devoid of feeling,. “The song has a beautiful, crushing numbness to it that we wanted to mirror in the visual,” Tony Wolski explains. “So we chose to romanticize our main character’s descent into her delusions of love and togetherness. At a time when everyone’s simultaneously coping with some sort of isolation, a story about loneliness—and the mania that comes with it—seems appropriate to tell.”