Over the years, I’ve written a bit about the Whittier, CA-based punk rock quartet Plague Vendor, and as you may recall the act which is comprised of Brandon Blaine (vocals), Luke Perine (drums), Michael Perez (bass) and Jay Rogers (guitar) formed back in 2009 — and in a short period of time, the members of Plague Vendor developed a reputation for frenetic and raucous live sets. Naturally, as a result of their reputation they played an increasing number of shows, and along with that they had begun to write an increasing batch of material. Those early live shows lead to 2014’s debut album debut Free to Eat, an album that has been described as terse, dark and thrashing post-punk.
2016’s Stuart Sikes-produced sophomore effort Bloodsweat landed at number 2 on this site’s Best of List, and from album singles “ISUA (I Stay Up Anyway)“, “Jezebel” and “No Bounty,” the album was full of frenetic, furious and anthemic punk performed with a blistering and undeniable swagger. Up until recently, two years had passed without any original material from the members of Plague Vendor; but before joining renowned producer John Congleton to begin work on their untitled third album, the members of Plague Vendor, along with Brett Gurewitz and engineer Morgan Stratton entered Sunset Sound Studio 2, where they spent a furious two days writing, completing and recording two songs in two days — the first single was the anxious, raw and stomping “I Only Speak in Fiction.” As the band’s Luke Perine explained in press notes at the time, the writing and recording of “I Only Speak in Fiction” helped revitalize the band and restore their focus. “As a band, we grow anxious—often depressed to some degree—during our downtime,” Perine said in press notes. “Having these two days to get in the studio ahead of working on the next album released a lot of that tension. It became a more productive two days than we expected, as we were only planning on recording one song. I think we are reaching a higher level of focus together as we go into this next album.”
The breakneck “Locomotive,” Plague Vendor’s latest single was recorded during the “I Only Speak in Friction” sessions, and track is centered by rapid fire four-on-the-floor drumming, brooding guitar chords, a chugging bass line, a mosh pit friendly hook and Blaine’s vocals, which shift from crooning to manic howling — and while the song possesses a primal and furious energy at its core, the new single reveals a band that has grown increasingly confident in their songwriting and approach, decidedly expanding upon the sound that has won them attention.
The accompanying video captures the band at their best — live, frenetic, furious and downright rousing.
Earlier this year, I wrote a bit about the Austin, TX-based trio Exhalants, and as you may recall, the band which features Steve (guitar, vocals), Bill (bass) and Body Pressure’s Tommy (drums), can trace its origins to the breakup of Steve’s and Bill’s previous band Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes. As the story goes, with the inevitably downtime that’s a result of a band’s breakup, Steve wound up spending his free time further honing his guitar playing before he recruited his former CSSS bandmate and Tommy to complete the project’s lineup.
Released earlier this year, the band’s self-titled full-length debt was recorded and mixed by Ghetto Ghouls‘ Ian Rundell and mastered by Yeesh’s Greg Obis, and the albums largely inspired by Shellac, Unwound and Cherubs, while nodding at the work of contemporaries like Melkbelly, Kal Marks and A Deer A Horse — or in other words, much like those bands, the album finds the band balancing pummeling and bruising heaviness with an underlining melodic sensibility. Interestingly, album single “Punishers” is an aptly titled, furious, abrasive and — well, punishing ripper centered by enormous power chords, wild peals of feedback and pummeling drumming. Sonically speaking, the song is a mosh pit-friendly anthemic that should be played way too loudly in a dark, sweaty room.
Unsurprisingly, the recently released video for “Punishers” will bring 120 Minutes-era MTV to mind, as its an equally pushing visual, consisting of warped, distorted VHS footage — and while old-timey, it manages to evoke the terror and fury of our time.
Now, as you recall, earlier this month I wrote about Lifestyles‘ breakneck, pummeling and grungy “Wail,” which is one-half of a split 7 inch that Chicago-based label No Trend Records! will be releasing later the month. The second half of that split 7 inch features another Chicago punk rock act, Meat Wave. Interestingly, the act which features Chris Sutter, Joe Gac and Ryan Wizniak has developed a reputation for crafting brooding and bruising punk; however, their contribution to the split 7 inch “That’s Alright” is the only song in their growing catalog that has any semblance of positivity or light, as it’s an ode to love within the frequently evil, near apocalyptic world we currently inhabit.
Centered around pummeling and forcefully urgent groove and layers of distorted guitars, the track will further cement the trio’s reputation for bruising punk and while being mosh pit friendly, the song features a rousingly anthemic hook. Certainly, the song is a brief reminder that there are brief and sometimes fleeting moments of light in our dark and fucked up world, and that we need to hold on to them desperately — with every fiber of our beings.
The members of Meat Wave are currently on tour, opening for Cursive through mid-November and it includes a November 7, 2018 stop at Irving Plaza. Check out the tour dates below.
10/27 – Gainesville, FL – The Fest 17
10/28 – Jacksonville, FL – Jack Rabbits*
10/30 – Atlanta, GA – The Masquerade*
10/31 – Charlotte, NC – The Underground*
11/01 – Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle*
11/02 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club*
11/03 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer*
11/04 – Asbury Park, NJ – Stone Pony*
11/06 – Long Island, NY – Amityville Music Hall*
11/07 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza *
11/08 – Boston, MA – Paradise*
11/09 – Hamden, CT – Space Ballroom*
11/10 – Buffalo, NY – Tralf Music Hall*
11/11 – Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theater*
11/12 – Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups*
11/13 – Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop*
11/14 – Detroit, MI – El Club*
11/15 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall*
11/16 – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon*
11/17 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club*
11/18 – Omaha, NE – Waiting Room*
Featuring members of well-regarded bands Foul Tip, Touched by Ghoul and Lil Tits, the members of Chicago-based punk band Lifestyles may be arguably be the most accomplished musicians in their hometown’s scene. Recently, the members of Lifestyles teamed up with another Chicago punk band Meat Wave to record a split 7 inch at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studios that No Trend Records! will be releasing on October 26, 2018. Add some Chicago style hot dogs at The Weiner’s Circle, some thin crust pizza at Aurelio’s and some Jeppson’s Malort and the split 7 inch may be the most Chicagoan thing ever. Seriously though, the split 7 inch’s first official single is Lifestyles contribution to the proceedings — the pummeling and grungy “Wail,” centered by Hanna Hazard’s roaring vocals and a breakneck, most pit friendly tempo.
Sonically, the song recalls the likes of Babes in Toyland, The Wipers and The Misfits — and although it may arguably be one of the fastest songs in their growing catalog, the band actually has a reputation for employing experimental song structures and otherworldly vocals to carve out their own unique take on punk and grunge. Interestingly, the song which is dedicated to the memory of Hüsker Dü’s Grant Hart is inspired by the band’s long-held obsession with cults — particularly Scientology. And as the band carefully notes “It’s about how any written contract among friends or practitioners of a shared belief is inherently a negative and suspicious thing – if one requires a signed contract to prove trust, then that person is clearly indicating they have no trust.”
Lifestyles is about to return to the Electrical Audio Studios to record their sophomore album. Be on the lookout for that one.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the Auckland, New Zealand-based punk rock quartet The Cavemen, and as you may recall, the band which was originally comprised of Paul Caveman (vocals), Jack Caveman (guitar, vocals), Nick Caveman (bass) and Jake Caveman (drums), formed while in high school — with the band’s founding members bonding over a shared love of glue and wild rock ‘n’ roll. After spending several years drinking and loitering around their hometown’s basements, graveyards and parking lots, the band’s original lineup honed their sound and over the course of 2014-2015 or so recorded their full-length debut, which received attention locally for material that could be roughly described as face-melting and furious punk that drew from The Ramones, The Cramps, The Stooges, The MC5 and others but thematically focused on grave-robbing, necrophilia and other weird shit with a sneering sense of humor; in fact, they’ve developed a reputation for being infamous — or as the band once claimed they were a “great band to clear a party.”
As the story goes, just two weeks before the members of The Cavemen were to relocate to London, they went on an infamous national tour to support their debut album, and unsurprisingly, the tour included an ill-fated graveyard tour that had to be canceled when the band’s Nick Caveman died in a tragic car accident: their tour van’s engine exploded, and as Nick Caveman was trying to see what was wrong, a passing motorist hit him. Now as you’d also recall, the British record label Dirty Water Records re-released their debut album for release in Europe and elsewhere, and from album single “Stand By Your Ghoul,” the band specialized in filthy, cretinous punk, centered around fuzzy power chords and howled lyrics. Unsurprisingly, the band has released the “Burn Out For Love” 7 inch and it’s a boozy, grimy and filthy punk ripper, full of power chords, amphetamine-fueled drummer and howled vocals. Sonically speaking, the song brings to mind, punk’s riotous boozy and revolutionary roots.
The accompanying video is a cheap and scuzzy cut and paste job on the Mexican punksploitation film Intrepidos Punks featuring the prerequisite debauched orgy of car crashes, breasts and gratuitous biker violence. Enjoy!
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.
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.